Ridgecrest native graduates from Air Force Academy

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Ridgecrest native graduates from Air Force AcademyWhen the U.S. Air Force Academy held its graduation ceremonies in April, many local residents tuned in to see one of their own honored during the virtual commencement exercises.

Anne Ewbank, daughter of Beverly and Kenney Ewbank of Ridgecrest, received her bachelor of science in military strategic studies and attained the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. She will report to the Air Battle Manager training with the 337th Air Control Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida on June 22.

“Annie knew from a young age that she wanted to serve her country,” said Bev. “Even when people told her little girls like her could never attend, Annie was tenacious and refused to alter her course.”

Anne recalled making her decision on the way to school one day, when she was in fifth grade. “I was just thinking about it in the car, how a lot of my family had been in the military … I decided I’d do it, too.”

She acknowledged many people who invested in her along her journey, including her family, who believed in her and challenged her. “I could not have done any of this without them.”

At Burroughs High School, she counted cross-country coaches Mr. and Mrs. Barnes, along with Advanced Placement U.S. History teacher Mr. Gerbracht as other inspirational influences on a road that was not always easy.

“Kenney and I are extremely proud of Annie and are looking forward to watching her amazing career,” said Bev.

Anne took time this week to talk about her academy experience — most notably for the benefit of those who may be interested in a career in the military.

“It’s hard, it’s intimidating — but it’s worth it,” she said. “Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.”

She recommended that students strive for a well-rounded education and experience —including sports, clubs and volunteer work. Preparing for the application itself is another grueling process that demands interview proficiency and political nominations on top of scholastic history and achievements.

“Making it through an academy is likely going to be one of the biggest challenges of your life,” she said.

Basic training includes yelling, early mornings, physical challenges and long days — and that is the easy part. Balancing school and military duties the first year may the most difficult to adjust to, but the decisions you make in the following years get tougher and potentially more important.

“Honestly, focus on school first. Bad grades are the main reason people get kicked out.”

During her time at academy, Anne was in the cadet Sabre Drill Team. “This team is what kept me at the Academy and developed me into the officer I am today.” The team instills discipline and leadership while teaching cadets to perform under pressure. She held several leadership positions on the team, which helped her learn her personal leadership style.

“Having a team that supports you can get you through anything,” she said. “And throwing sharp swords around to some music for a crowd is some of the most dangerous fun you can have.”

Another great leadership opportunity was her time as Element Leader during spring semester her junior year. “I was directly in charge of 10 other cadets from all four classes and focused on creating a cohesive group that everyone felt welcomed in,” she said.

“I learned a lot from that experience, and it definitely helped me grow as a leader.”

Throughout her time she took on other jobs and responsibilities, including serving as head director of training and athletic coordinator for the squadron — which led to her being honored as No. 1 Director of Training one period.

Her major in military strategic studies is, in essence, an overview of how the military works. She said that every class associated with the study built up and broadened her military knowledge and strategy skills.

“I learned and experienced a lot more at the Air Force Academy than I would have learned at any other college. You make your closest friends when you struggle together, not just physically, but academically too.”

She learned to make decisions — not just for herself, but for the benefit of those she was responsible for.

“Will you make the right decision every time? Not likely. But you learn from your decisions and the impact they have on you and those around you. If you learn what you can and try your best, you will be better off than those who have never tried or refuse to give their best.”

Cadets learn that, when it comes to anything involving their future, the answer is always, “If you make it that far.” The phrase sticks with you whether it relates to surviving a calculus test, making it to the weekend, or graduating. “Proud to say, I finally made it that far,” she said.

Another question that Anne frequently fields is … was it all worth it?

“For all the struggles, pain and hardship I went through, I’d still say yes. I’ve had a lot of experiences and made a lot of friends that I wouldn’t trade for the world,” she said.

“The Air Force Academy is a learning experience from the moment you get off the bus until you graduate, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

Pictured: 2nd Lt. Anne Ewbank

Story First Published: 2020-05-29