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Great Falls teen receives appointment to U.S. Air Force Academy

AJ Wells.png
Posted at 5:04 PM, Feb 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-14 11:33:25-05

GREAT FALLS — Whether it's on the golf course, the running track or in the classroom, A.J. Wells always seems to be reaching new heights. That dedication has paid off in the form of an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Wells remembers the exact day and time he learned his future was about to take off.

“I found out via a call from Senator Daines on December 7th,” said Wells. “I actually remember the time. It was about 1:00 p.m. I was sitting in my chemistry class.”

A.J. found out he had received a principal nomination to the United States Air Force Academy, meaning he was the first person from his area to be offered an appointment, essentially a golden ticket to an academy.

On Monday, he celebrated his success with family, friends, CMR teachers, administrators, staff members from Montana’s congressional delegation and Air Force personnel.

“A.J. set his sights on the military,” said CMR Principal Jamie McGraw. “And we know that his commitment to excellence and leadership are going to serve him well on that journey.”

Air Force Admission Liaison Officer, Lt. Col. Aubrey Curtis told the crowd he was impressed with A.J.’s drive and initiative.

“He knew early on that he wanted to go to the academy,” said Curtis.

A.J., who serves as CMR Student Body president, admits the application process was tough. He applied and was nominated to all the service academies except the Coast Guard.

“I'm still waiting on finding out if I will get an appointment to those service academies, but the Air Force Academy feels like home,” said Wells.

It’s a dream he’s had for a long time.

“When I first visited there in sixth grade, my cousin, who was a big inspiration in this process, showed me around and for some reason I fell in love with the place,” said Wells.

A.J. recently received his private pilot’s certificate. He’s hoping to spend much more time in the sky.

“The aviation aspect of the Air Force is the tip of the spear, and that's what I want to be a part of,” said Wells. “If not, my back up would be working intelligence.”

Last year, A.J. was awarded a prestigious scholarship as part of the United States Senate Youth Program. He still has a graduation to get through and a Rustler track and Field season to compete in before reporting to the academy in June. With his family serving as inspiration, he’s ready to embark on a career of service.

“I look up to my mom and dad with their careers working for law enforcement, and I look up to my grandpa in his service in the Air Force and my grandma, who was a counselor for the Great Falls School District,” said Wells. “I mean, it's definitely a life of giving back that they have done, and I think that I'm ready to do that also.”