In the News

The Mercury
By: Dylan Lysen

Once the second acceptance letter came in, Cole Dudley said he felt conflicted.

Dudley has to make the tough decision of choosing where he wants to continue his academic career. The Manhattan High senior must choose between appointments to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and the United States Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Although the choice will be tough, Dudley said he’s excited to pursue his education and career in the military.

“It’s a good opportunity to participate in selfless service,” Dudley said, noting the many different career paths the Air Force and Navy can provide.

To be considered for military academy appointments, a student must receive recommendations from a member of Congress. Dudley received recommendations from both U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall and Sen. Jerry Moran.

“I am so proud of Cole for receiving offers to not one but two military academies,” Marshall said. “This is a rare and excellent achievement. Cole has proven himself to be a thoughtful and capable leader in the classroom and through his various extra-curricular activities. I know he will continue to lead and make Kansas proud during his military career.”

According to U.S. News and World Reports, the acceptance rate at the Air Force Academy is 15 percent. The Naval Academy accepts 8 percent.

Dudley said he is familiar with the military because his father, Mark Dudley, served in the Army for 26 years, and Cole grew up in Hawaii near Pearl Harbor.

Although his father served in the Army, Dudley did not apply to the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Dudley said he dreams of becoming a pilot, and both the Navy and the Air Force offer paths toward that career.

The Navy and Air Force also offer many other career paths that he is interested in, he said.

“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Mark said. “The education and training can be used outside (of the military) as well.”

Dudley has not yet made a decision on which academy he will attend, but he must choose by May 1. He plans to travel to Colorado this week for an Air Force recruiting visit, he said.

Dudley’s mother, Gina Dudley, said she and her husband are proud of their son. In high school, Dudley has participated on the boy’s swim team, served as a manager for the girl’s swim team and was a member of the school’s National Honor Society.

“We’re proud of him, even if he didn’t receive the appointments,” Gina said.

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