NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Nacogdoches High School senior Blake Ishmael steps up to receive his ceremonial all inclusive four year scholarship to the U.S. Air force Academy. Blake is one of only about 1600 applicants to be appointed. Over 10,000 apply each year. The appointment has an academic value of $40,000 a year.
Before October, the straight a student never gave one of the most prestigious military academies a single thought. Blake chuckled at his procrastination. "Usually they have people start applying their junior year. Unfortunately, I got started the beginning of my senior year, so I really had to hook it and get everything turned in really quickly."
Air Force graduate and Nacogdoches physician Mark Nielsen put Blake on the fast track. It began at a routine college night last fall. All the military branches were struggling with recruiting, but Nielsen let Blake's history of commitment work in everyone's favor. "The United States has always been a service oriented country and there are always kids and adults that are interested in giving of themselves," said the 1976 Air Force Academy graduate.
Still the decision didn't come lightly. It required faith and deep consideration by the entire family. War time made it even more difficult. "It weighed in my decision. I mean, I'm the mama. I don't want my baby to be hurt, but we pretty much gave it to God," shared Alison Ishmael, Blake's mother. "I prayed a lot about it and it took me a while, but I finally...it felt right," said Blake. "I had to be his decision totally," expressed Scott Ishmael, Blake's father. "It was not something we could make the decision for him on his behalf."