SCHS student introduces Joint Chiefs chairman

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Sandy Creek High rising senior Connor McCracken, a cadet in the school’s Air Force Junior ROTC program, had a memorable moment sharing the stage with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, as he introduced the general as a recipient of the TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) Honor Guard Military Award at the annual Honor Guard Gala in Washington, D.C.

Connor, the surviving son of U.S. Army Col. David McCracken who lost his life in 2011, said he knew his dad was smiling down on him that evening as he introduced the general and shared the stage with him as he accepted his award.

“In my house, my mom is always reminding us to make memories, and tonight I think I have topped my brother and sister with the memory of introducing Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” Connor said to the audience at the gala.

The annual TAPS Honor Guard Gala honors military members and contractors who lost their lives in service to America and recognizes the families they left behind. Funds raised at the gala are used to support families of fallen heroes through various programs and outreach services.

Connor, who has set his sights on becoming a pilot in the U.S. Air Force, was selected to attend the Summer Seminar Program at the U.S. Air Force Academy this June.

The week-long program, designed for high school juniors heading into their senior year, gives participants the opportunity to experience the U.S. Air Force Academy firsthand while gaining an understanding of the challenges and rewards of life as a cadet, as well as insight into what it means to serve as an officer in the U.S. Air Force.

Students live and eat on campus, participate in workshops taught by Academy instructors in subjects ranging from aeronautics to humanities, and participate in a variety of physical fitness activities.

Participants are selected based on a “whole person concept.” The Academy looks for emerging leaders based on demonstrated leadership experiences in extracurricular and community activities, athletics and academics.