Every high school senior anticipates flying from the nest, but Brooke Fraasch, daughter of Wayde and Amber Fraasch, plans to be flying higher than most. Fraasch received an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
“I was bouncing off the walls with excitement when I was notified Senator John Thune had nominated me. Then you hold off getting your hopes up because the chance of getting in is small – a 16% acceptance rate. Only 1,200 from across the nation receive an appointment.” It wasn’t long before the Air Force Academy offered her an appointment, though. “I can’t believe it’s real,” she said. “I’m not sure it will feel 100% real until I get there.”
Fraasch learned she had also received a nomination to the Air Force Academy from South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem, but it came after Thune’s. “It’s an honor to get an appointment from both,” she remarked. But the wave of nomination letters wasn’t over yet. Senator Mike Rounds also nominated Fraasch for an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.
“I am waiting to hear from the Naval Academy before I make my final decision,” she said. “If I have the opportunity to choose, it will be a hard decision. It will be an honor to serve either branch.”
She says she has always wanted to become a pilot. “I’m not sure when that started – somewhere in my middle school years. But, I always thought being a pilot would be cool. I have always known I want to fly.”
When Brooke joins the ranks, she will be a third generation member of the military. “With my dad and both my grandfathers in the military, I always wanted to be in the military, too. Partly because of them, but also because I want to serve my country.”
Brooke’s dad, Wayde, is currently an O3 captain with the Air Reserves and has spent over 20 years in the military. “My dad served in three of the five branches,” Brooke said. “He started in the Navy right out of high school, then he transferred to the Army for a few years before joining the Air Reserves.”
Wayde’s father, Doug Fraasch, also spent over 20 years in the Air Reserves. He was an E9, which is the highest enlisted rank you can earn and he served as a personnel superintendent with the rank of Chief Master Sergeant. He seemed excited his granddaughter will follow in his footsteps and said, “It is great to see Brooke carry on the military tradition in our family. It’s not often that happens with families around here.” Brooke’s maternal grandfather, Robert, also served in the U.S. Army.
Brooke holds a 4.0 or higher grade point average at MHS and was designated the number one student academically in her class following the first quarter of this school year. She is a member of the National Honor Society and was a Girls State delegate last year. She participates in cross country, gymnastics, and track and field. She is also a member of the Milbank Area Lions Swim Team and has been involved in dance with Core Kinetics for many years. Fraasch joined the MHS band and choir and also sings with the choir at St. Lawrence Church in Milbank.
She chose to spend her summer at team leadership summits in Georgia and Colorado. “Being in the military, you have to learn how to lead people. By taking part in these summits, we work together with other military kids to learn leadership skills for our future.”
She also spent a week at the Naval Academy’s summer seminar and a week at the Air Force’s Falcon Visitation Experience. “Both of these were like a ‘week in the life of’ type thing. You get a firsthand feel for what each academy will be like and get to meet a lot of new people. Plus, it is good for my resume and I like traveling to different places.”
After making her decision, Brooke will begin her formal training in June. It all starts with Basic training and then college courses in August. A full ride to either academy is valued at approximately $416,000.
Upon graduation, she will spend a minimum of five years on active duty. “I could see myself spending 20 years in the military, but I’m not sure I would stay active duty that whole time. I might go into the reserves like my dad and grandfather.”
For now, Brooke says she is enjoying her senior year. “I’m excited and ready to go. I’m going to enjoy this last semester of high school, but then it is time to get out of the nest.”