Vance AFB air traffic controller receives direct appointment to Academy

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Frank Casciotta
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
Approximately 2 percent of enlisted Airmen who apply to the U.S. Air Force Academy are selected each year for direct appointment. This year, an air traffic controller here is among them.

Airman 1st Class Sage Keltee, from the 71st Operations Support Squadron, will begin Basic Cadet Training at the Academy in June.

"I heard about the commissioning program for the Air Force Academy in June after my First-Term Airmen's Center briefing," Keltee said. "I went to the education office and started the process."

It took five months and a team of NCOs to help Keltee achieve his goal to make it to the Academy.

"Being selected for direct admission requires an extensive selection process," said Patty Edmond from Academy Admissions. "We assess their physical, academic and leadership potential through a series of background information and tests. We want to ensure that they will be successful, which is why so many go to the (Academy Preparatory School) first."

Keltee, however, will skip this step and will attend the Acedemy without detour.

"His motivation and drive to accomplish goals is what motivates me to do what I do today," said Master Sgt. Jason Trickey, the assistant chief controller at the 71st OSS radar approach control center. "He did all the work. I just helped him make sure his essays were formatted properly."

Applying for the Academy requires a significant amount of dedication and commitment which results in only a few Airmen applying. But Keltee was not deterred.

"He's the only active-duty Airman who has been accepted into this program in the past two years across the Air Force," said Lt. Col. Chris Callaghan, the 71st OSS commander.

"I heard they don't normally have spots filled, so I knew if I worked hard I would have a chance," said Keltee, a native of Cambridge, Ohio. "I had to take the ACT four times before I was satisfied with my score."

"I'm proud of what he accomplished," Callaghan said. "Frankly, I think most people look at the process, because it's so extensive, and say 'That's a hill too steep.' But he took the time to test and retest to make himself competitive. As a commander it was a rewarding experience to be the one to deliver the news to him."

Toward the end of the day on Jan. 31, Callaghan called a meeting to announce the good news.

"He came up to me and I was ecstatic because he told me I was accepted into the Academy directly, instead of having to go through the Prep School."

After he graduates from the Academy, Keltee said he would like to be a pilot or an engineer.

"The opportunities are here," Keltee said. "You can definitely do it if you try."