BONNE TERRE – A Bonne Terre teen will be leaving soon to attend the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
Steven Hilgedick, a 2004 North County graduate, was recently nominated by U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson to attend the four-year academy. He will leave for the academy June 30.
Hilgedick said it is a pretty big commitment. After graduating from the academy with a bachelor’s degree, he will have to serve five years in active duty and three years in the reserves.
Hilgedick said it’s too early to decide if he will pursue the military as a career. He is considering majoring in civil engineering but doesn’t have to decide on a major until his sophomore year.
“I’ve always had an interest in the military,” he said. “I feel it’s my duty to serve the country in some way to deserve the freedoms I get.”
Several members of his family have served in the military. His great uncle served in the Air Force. One grandfather served in the Navy. Another grandfather, an uncle and his godfather served in the Army.
His godparents, Glen and Linda Beckmeyer of Hartsburg, went with him to meet with Emerson on Friday.
Emerson, whose own stepchildren are involved in the military, offered some advice to Hilgedick and offered to visit him at the academy.
“I know you are going to represent the district and the country well,” she said. “I wish we could find more of you…”
Hilgedick began the process of applying for the nomination his junior year when he attended a summer seminar. His senior year, he applied for appointments through Sen. Kit Bond and Emerson. Before he was selected, he had to complete several tests such as a physical aptitude test.
“We are continuing in service to our nation here in southeast Missouri, and Steven is an example of how a new generation is taking up the duty so honorably discharged by the men who earned these awards many years ago,” Emerson said.
“As we continue to stand behind our men and women in uniform serving right now, it is also important we look to the past and to the future.”
Hilgedick, son of Ben and Linda Hilgedick of Bonne Terre, played football and ran track in high school. He was a member of the honor society and graduated at the top 10 percent of his class.
Hilgedick will continue to work full time – except one week he is taking off- until he leaves for the academy.