When Michael Anthony Fisk marched out of Jacks Valley in the summer of 2009, he assumed that the toughest part of his first-year training at the Air Force Academy was over.
He assumed wrong.
“You think things will die down, but they actually ramp up,” said Fisk, a 2008 graduate of nearby Lewis-Palmer High School. “That whole freshman year intense, but it makes you respect why you’re there.”
Fisk made it through his first year at the Academy – and three more – graduating earlier this month as a second lieutenant. Now the Palmer Lake resident has about two months off before reporting for duty at Schriever Air Force Base.
“I report Oct. 4 and then head to Vandenberg (Air Force base) for training when a spot opens up.”
Fisk, 23, was one of 11 summer graduates added to the Long Blue Line at the Aug. 2 ceremony. Retired General Kevin P. Chilton was the guest speaker for the ceremony. The general is a 1976 Academy graduate, who last served as commander, U.S. Strategic Command, before retiring in 2011.
Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, Academy Superintendent, presented the diplomas to the new graduates, along with Brigadier Gen. Andrew Armacost, dean of the faculty.
After receiving their diplomas, the Academy’s newest graduates swore the oath of office and each had family members pin on their new rank.
The 11 new lieutenants brings the Academy’s total number of graduates to 46,039 since the first graduating class in 1959.
“I’m very excited to graduate,” Fisk said. “I was able to persevere and graduate and move on to the next stage.
“Now I get to spend some time with my family and visit my brother in Hawaii.”
Fisk graduated with a bachelor of science in management. He will report to Schriever (his No. 1 choice) as a space operations officer, where he hopes to focus on acquisitions.
“Looking back, I see why the Air Force did things the way they did,” Fisk said. “They have to break you down to build you up. It makes the whole experience of the Academy more meaningful.”
Fisk must serve at least a five-year commitment, during which time he plans to marry his fiancée, Justine Milligan - who is part of the radiology program at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
Fisk enjoyed a successful high school athletic career at Lewis-Palmer. He played hockey for the school and was a member of the first-ever Rangers’ hockey team during the 2006-2007 season.
He played the next season with his younger brother, Travis, who went on to play on back-to-back Lewis-Palmer state-championship teams in 2010 and 2011.
Michael Fisk also was a three-year letterman in football, where he was a center.
Fisk applied for the Academy during his senior year, but was not initially accepted. He received the Falcon Foundation Scholarship and attended Northwestern Preparatory School in Crestline (located in the San Bernardino Mountains of southern California) for a year.
He reapplied to the Academy in 2009 and was received his appointment that May.
“Growing up I knew so many officers involved with the Academy,” Fisk said. “I always wanted to go there and I’m so glad I did.”