Local cadet earns nomination
John Salazar recommends Buddy Kinder to Air Force Academy
Steamboat Springs — Fourteen pull-ups. Sixty pushups. A mile in less than 6 minutes. It was no normal college application, but for 17-year-old Buddy Kinder, it could be the route to the U.S. Air Force Academy.
The first paperwork on Kinder’s path to the academy was through U.S. Rep. John Salazar, who awarded Kinder a nomination after a grueling interview with a panel selected by the congressman.
Kinder, a senior at The Lowell Whiteman School, said he is interested in attending the academy because it is important to create a safe country.
“I feel strongly that a strong military is something that we need in this day and age,” Kinder said. “To have a liberal society, we need a military that can protect it, so it’s something that’s required even though a lot of people are opposed to it. We need to protect our borders and ideals.”
Kinder is also a Cadet Chief Master Sergeant in the Civil Air Patrol Cadet program, where he has been active for two years.
To prepare for the physical test, Kinder and his father, Dennis Kinder, worked out for three days a week for several months, increasing to six days a week near the time of the test.
In a 35-minute, multi-part test, Kinder was asked to throw a basketball as far as he could from a kneeling position, complete as many sit-ups, pushups and pull-ups as possible, complete four lengths of a shuttle run as quickly as possible and run a mile.
But the hardest part of the application process may have been the interview with a three-person panel selected by Salazar.
With one graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, one graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and one citizen, Kinder was questioned about his motives and goals in the academy, but they also threw him a harder question.
After asking about Kinder’s youth group – he attends a Catholic church – one of the interviewers asked a hypothetical question.
“He asked me, ‘If we were in Afghanistan right now, and Osama Bin Laden was in that Catholic church across the street there, could I call the air strike even though there are women and children in it,'” Kinder recalled.
Kinder said he was taken aback by the question and ultimately said he guessed he could call in the strike, if needed. He also was asked if he was flying the plane with the bomb, whether he could drop it. Kinder said he would follow orders, whatever they may be.
“I think that question saved me,” he said.
Dennis Kinder said he thinks the application process has affected his son, making him more mature even before he attends college.
“I think he’s matured a lot over the last year during the application process. He’s had to take on the responsibility himself of contacting coaches, contacting teachers and filling out the application,” Dennis Kinder said. “I think it’s done a lot for his maturity.”
When Kinder first told his parents he wanted to attend the Air Force Academy, his parents were nervous.
“We were a little bit hesitant about it at first. Our family is not really a military family,” Dennis Kinder said. “As we learned more about it, we’re actually very proud of him that he wants to serve his country, and it’s a great school, so now we’re very excited about it.”
Applicants will be informed about their acceptance between January and July. Kinder said he also is applying at Georgetown University, American University and the University of Denver.
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