A senior at Marshall County High School is, like many of his classmates, looking beyond May's graduation and into his post-secondary career--but unlike many of his classmates, he's most excited about the physical challenges he'll face as part of basic military training.
Christian Cosner, 18, will report to the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in June, where he will spend the next four years training for active duty and his career beyond. He said the letter notifying him of his appointment to the academy noted he was among the 1,200 incoming students selected from approximately 11,000 applicants.
Cosner will spend six weeks completing basic training, earning his slot as a cadet before entering studies at the academy. He's interested in mechanical/aeronautical engineering, air defense and missile defense, and perhaps pursuing a career as a pilot. He said the USAFA reports approximately 50% of its graduates are assigned as pilots upon graduation, which is a significant majority, but he has until his senior year before he will learn his post-graduation assignment.
Cosner also received a letter of assurance from the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, which prepares and trains officers for the U.S. Army. Cosner's older brother, Hardin, attended and graduated from West Point; he's currently serving in Saudi Arabia.
While Cosner called the letter of assurance from both academies a tremendous honor, he believed the USAFA was a better fit.
"I've always liked flying and the technical mechanics that work to make airplanes and helicopters fly; I've been studying it more intently over the last two or three years and getting into the Air Force seems like the best path," he said. "I wanted to join the military because I want to protect my family and friends, and because I want to serve my country."
Part of what made the appointment (acceptance) into the USAFA such an honor, Cosner said, was having earned a nomination made by Congressman James Comer for his slot in the academy. He said every cadet accepted into the USAFA is required to earn a congressional nomination to secure their spot.
In fact, Cosner said, Comer called the high school just after winter break and was on hold for a pretty good amount of time as the administrators pulled him from class to come to the office and accept the call. Comer wanted to tell Cosner himself that he had been nominated for both the USAFA and West Point, and that he had been appointed to the USAFA.
Comer told The Tribune-Courier, "It's a pleasure to see an outstanding Marshall Countian like Christian accepted into the United States Air Force Academy. When I nominated him, I was confident that his strong work ethic and stellar academic achievement would prepare him well for one of our nation's prestigious service academies. I want to congratulate Christian on this outstanding accomplishment and wish him the best of luck."
Cosner's resume is chock full of accolades including a number of community service projects; track and field team records; membership with a number of academic clubs such as National Beta Club president and vice president, as well as a number of competition placements with the club, Technology Students Association, National Honor Society and Science Olympiad.
Also among the accolades is Civil Air Patrol, which is what Cosner credits with helping him know he was choosing the correct career path. He said he's already been exposed to and learned basic military formations, ceremonies and drills, learned first aid and search and rescue, and he's already flown a plane as part of learning aeronautics.
"It allows you to see what military life is like before you sign the dotted line," he explained. "I've been doing it since February 2018 and that really swayed my decision to go into the Air Force."
"I'm excited for it. I think it'll be fun," Cosner said. "The only thing I'm actually worried about is the mental strain, but I'm pretty headstrong so I think I'll be fine; and I watched Hardin go through it so I kind of know what to expect. But most of it I'm excited for -- especially the physical part of it."
Cosner is the son of Christa Hall and Scott Cosner.