Dylan Horton: Anchors Away

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Dylan Horton: Anchors Away

Zachary Placek, Staff Writer

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Alliance High School senior, Dylan Horton, has accomplished an extraordinary feat in achieving one of his major goals; to attend one of The United States’ most prestigious military academies. For years, he has been preparing himself both physically and academically to reach his goal and has accepted his appointment with the United States Naval Academy, located in Annapolis, Maryland.

Ever since he was a young boy, Dylan Horton has been fascinated by aircraft. During fifth or sixth grade, he was already looking into the future that laid ahead of him. “I’ve always had an interest in aircraft and have wanted to be a pilot,” stated Dylan.

During his research, one of the things that stood out to him were military academies. Since then, it has been a dream of Dylan’s to attend a military academy. He had this goal in mind even in middle school and began preparing as much as he could, academically, before getting to high school. He began by studying each subject almost every night.

During his freshman and sophomore years, Dylan began prepping for the ACT, one of the many things military academies look at during their application process. Dylan took as many honors or AP classes as he could during those two years, while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. It was during these two years that something clicked in Dylan’s head. “That’s when I knew it was real,” Dylan commented, “I knew I was getting close to my goal and I had to be prepared.”

Junior year was when Dylan began to see the results of his success. He scored high on his ACT, maintained his 4.0 GPA, and competed in varsity tennis and golf. It was also during this year, however, that Dylan began to stress about his future. He, like everyone else in their junior year, had to start thinking about the next step in his life, whether that be military or college. Dylan decided to do both at the same time.

Although Horton had a plan for college, he still had some big decisions to make. He knew that his junior year was hectic and stressful and that he needed to find a way to lighten the stress load during his senior year. He decided that he would have to end his high school athletic career. It was a tough choice for him to make because of his previous commitment to sports. Part of him still regrets the decision. “I definitely missed my friends and the trips we went on,” he explained, “It was a lot of fun.”

Once summer came around, Dylan began waking up to work out in the mornings. He generally ran a few miles, up to three times a week. When asked about his least favorite part about training, Dylan said, “Definitely the running. I’ve never been a runner, or very fast.”

Each day that he didn’t run, Dylan woke up at 5:30 to go to Lap Swim at the city pool. Every day since he started, he said he would do pushups, situps, and pullups to prepare for his physical test, in the fall. When August came around, Dylan began running farther and pushing himself every day. When asked if he ever wanted to quit, he said “I never wanted to give up. It had been hard at times and I had doubt, but I also have been working towards this for a long time.”

Dylan’s senior year came quick and the stress returned. He had his afternoons free, but his nights were still busy. It took a lot of time to fill out applications to each of the academies. He also had multiple dual credit college classes to study for. His family helped him throughout the process, which Dylan appreciated a lot. Dylan’s parents helped him juggle all of his responsibilities by aiding him in the application process and pushing him during his workouts.

Part of the application process is getting nominations from U.S. Representatives or U.S. Senators representing your Congressional district or State. Dylan received nominations from Deb Fischer, U.S. Senator from Nebraska, Ben Sasse, junior U.S. Senator from Nebraska, and Congressman Adrian Smith. Dylan received calls from both Sasse and Smith, congratulating and notifying him on his recommendation. “I was very excited and I was glad to see my hard work paid off,” said Dylan.

Once all of his applications were put together, it was reviewed by a large panel made up of former students, retired naval officers, admirals, etc., to determine whether or not he would get an interview with the academy.

Out of the estimated 4,000 people that begin the application process to get into the Naval Academy, approximately 1,200 will finish the application, get an interview, and become a midshipman.

Prior to his visiting each military academy on the east coast, Dylan could not decide which academy he wanted to attend. It was a tough decision between the Naval Academy and the Coast Guard Academy but after his trip Dylan chose to accept the Naval Academy’s interview.

Horton explained that while attending the Naval Academy, everyone earns a bachelor of science, no matter what major they choose. He has narrowed down his major choice between mechanical engineering or aerospace engineering. He went on to explain that most people don’t realize that attending a military academy is the same as going to college, but he gets military training as well.

Dylan said that Lyle Horton, his father and a Naval Veteran, played a big part in his decision to choose the Naval Academy. Dylan explained that his father wanted him to make his own decision, but Dylan already had a bias towards the navy, due to his father’s history with the military branch. Dylan also said that his dad is his role model. “He’s a great example for strong work ethic and striving to do the right thing.”

Dylan’s first summer with the Naval Academy begins June 28, and is called “Plebe Summer”, which is the transition from civilian to military. This is the Naval Academy’s version of basic training. His college classes begin in August and last until May like traditional colleges. Dylan will still get normal breaks such as fall and Christmas. However, unlike traditional colleges, Naval Academy students only get three weeks off for summer break, which Dylan plans to spend in Alliance with his family and friends. The rest of the summer is used for a sort of job shadowing/summer training with an active squadron or unit in the navy, which could take him overseas, depending on the unit.

One of Dylan’s concerns about the academy is the distance from home, a concern shared with his parents, especially his mother. He will miss his family and friends and the small town of Alliance. “It will be hard work but enjoyable,” Dylan comments about the academy, “but I’m also excited.”

Dylan believes he won’t be too worried about the distance, but will feel at home. One of the missions of the staff at the Naval Academy is to make the students feel comfortable. Dylan will be with over 4,000 other students in the dorms and will have roommates to keep him company, while away.

After graduation from the Academy, Dylan plans to make a career out of the military. His best case scenario would be to attend flight school and become a naval pilot. Plan B would be to become a surface warfare officer, whose primary duties focus on the operation of Navy ships at sea and the management of various shipboard systems. His last choice would be submarines. Dylan’s post military plan is to use his engineering degree to find a job and possibly return to Alliance.

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