We extend our gratitude to all service members for protecting our freedom.
Brock Crawford (2014) attended the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) upon graduation from LCA. He is the first LCA alumni to graduate from a service academy.
In December of 2019, Brock pinned on his wings and graduated from Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance AFB, in Enid, Oklahoma with an incredible assignment to fly F-16 fighter jets for the Air Force. In March, he graduated from Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals (IFF) at Randolph AFB in San Antonio, Texas. Brock promoted to First Lieutenant this spring and he and his wife Marilyn moved to Holloman AFB in Alamogordo, New Mexico, where he is currently training in the F-16C Block 40, the same jet his father was flying when he was born. He will finish the course at the end of 2020 and will receive his first operational assignment where they will serve for about 3 years.
Sandra Clark recently visited with Brock about his journey to the USAFA and how his time at Legacy helped him prepare for college and beyond.
When did you first become interested in military service?
Growing up I never really knew specifically what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to pursue something that was challenging, rewarding, and elite. I have always been one to push myself and go for gold whenever I saw an opportunity. My father was an F-16 pilot in the Air Force, so I was exposed to the idea of military service from an early age.
How did you end up at the USAFA?
As I grew older I decided that the Air Force was an ideal environment for me. It is demanding, unique, and technologically advanced. It allows me to fulfill my desire to do something physically difficult and exciting while also sharpening my mind. I felt as if I wouldn’t be fulfilled unless I could find an atmosphere that encapsulated all of these aspects, and the Air Force was a perfect match.
When the time came to start pursuing colleges and taking standardized entrance exams, I sat down with Mr. Daniel Townsley and told him all about how I was set on going to Texas A&M as well as my plan to join the military. During our meeting, Mr. Townsley looked at my ACT scores and asked if I had ever considered the United States Air Force Academy. At this point, all I really knew about USAFA was that it was another commissioning source, it was really hard to get in, and some people I knew had wanted to go there. That was it. He gave me a brief description of what it was and strongly urged me to consider it.
At that point, my parents jumped on board, and we scheduled a visit to Colorado Springs. I left with a clear understanding of USAFA and was determined to be a fighter pilot. USAFA is the largest commissioning source for the Air Force, graduating about 1,000 Second Lieutenants every year. On top of that, nearly half of the class every year earns a pilot slot. It is free to attend the USAFA in exchange for military service (which I wanted anyway), they had one of the top Aeronautical Engineering programs in the nation, I could fly an airplane (and jump out of them it turns out) while I was there, and it was in Colorado (I’m a big outdoors person), so it was honestly a no-brainer. Going to USAFA was one of the most life-shaping decisions I’ve made. The opportunities were endless, the education was world-class, and the networks I built both professionally and personally were an incredible foundation for a career in the Air Force.
What role did LCA play in preparing you for USAFA?
LCA gave me the tools I needed to be successful. Legacy’s curriculum was rigorous and pushed me to excel academically. The math, science, English, and physics classes gave me the academic foundation to pursue an engineering degree and be successful at USAFA. STEM classes opened door number one by allowing me to perform well on the ACT and pursue a challenging engineering major. English opened door number two by allowing me to convey my thoughts well, to translate all those numbers articulately. My writing was key to my acceptance into the academy. I honestly think my essays are what set me apart and got me in the door.
The teachers at LCA also developed my critical thinking skills. Mr. Ron Littleton and Mr. Anthony Glenn really solidified that with their heavy emphasis on philosophy, logic, world-views, and apologetics. While everyone that goes to USAFA is smart and studious, not everyone can think critically or outside the box. Without a doubt, I learned a great deal of knowledge while at LCA, but, all in all, the critical thinking skills I acquired through my classes have aided me the most in my career. Flying planes is a dynamic environment. I’m constantly assessing, evaluating, and calculating trade-offs or solving problems. No book can prepare you completely for such pressure, and the ability to think critically has proven invaluable.
Fine arts helped me become well rounded. I learned to appreciate music, and it creates great shared interest. Playing clarinet almost certainly helped my fine motor skills, reaction, and speed of recognition, all vital tools in a good pilot’s toolkit. I also learned that one wrong movement or sound, no matter how small, can negatively impact the whole. Such discipline and understanding is critical to service in the military.
Finally, sports prepared me for life outside the classroom. They taught me invaluable life lessons, driving home the importance of hard work and discipline. Pushing through adversity is something that one only learns while enduring it, and sports were a vital part of that lesson for me. Every single one of my coaches taught me different lessons that still present themselves from time to time. The importance of a team and camaraderie were solidified on the football field. A fellowship like that is essential to a healthy mental development. Of all the things LCA gave me, athletics and my coaches definitely had the most significant impact on my personal development. They remain my fondest memories and helped forge life-long friendships.
What advice would you have for future LCA students who might have an interest in attending a service academy?
If you really want to go to a service academy, strong academics are essential. Excellent grades, outstanding SAT/ACT scores, NHS membership, and athletic involvement are standard across the board. Given this, applicants need to find a way to stand out beyond the classroom. For me, this wasn’t one activity but a wide array of activities. My involvement in concert band, marching band, football, student council, Legacy Service Organization (LSO), track, and Frisco Mayor’s Youth Council established that diversity. The USAFA essentially scores each applicant, so it is also critical to highlight each achievement within each activity to maximize your candidacy.
The hardest part of the process, however, is securing a nomination from a congressman. You cannot go to the academy without one. In order to check that box, I applied to Sam Johnson’s Youth Council, which helped secure my nomination. I also conversed heavily with my Liaison Officer, who helps prospective candidates construct their application, about all the possible opportunities that could help distinguish me from other candidates.
Throughout the numbers game and nomination, applicants must also work to remain relevant in the reviewing official’s mind. I worked to demonstrate how my life experiences developed me as a leader through the required essays and interviews. The temptation is to brag about all of your achievements and why you are the best possible candidate, but it’s also important to be friendly and genuine. I had to learn to write and interview with a service-oriented mindset. I used my accomplishments and achievements to talk about how I could impact others and the lessons I learned along the way, which seemed to earn me the respect from my congressmen.
The bottom line is to start early, never close any door until it’s slammed in your face, pursue difficult achievements even if they seem unreachable (people often undervalue themselves), and build a network of people who can assist you through the process.
Legacy Christian Academy is Frisco's preeminent Pre-K through 12 Christian school committed to educating students in a college preparatory environment balanced in academics, athletics, and fine arts–all within the context of a biblical worldview. For more information on Legacy, visit our admissions page.