Joe Masiker Accepted Into U.S. Air Force Academy

Joe Masiker, an Anthony Wayne High School senior, will be heading to the U.S. Air Force Academy on June 26. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Joe Masiker has a hefty to-do list in the next 10 weeks: Finish obtaining his private pilot’s license, lead hundreds of cadets through a weeklong encampment and enjoy the festivities around high school graduation.

That’s no big challenge for the Anthony Wayne High School senior, who learned early on to identify aspirations, divide them into short-term goals and get to work.

“It’s something that works for me,” said Joe, who will be heading to the U.S. Air Force Academy on June 26.

With his dad, Joshua, and grandfather, Michael, both Air Force veterans, Joe decided that he wanted to continue the family tradition. 

“That’s where my inspiration started,” he said. 

So, as a freshman, he joined the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), an auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force. It’s a program that allows youths ages 12-18 to learn more about the Air Force and military structure while participating in drills, camps and classes about leadership, history and science. Since then, Joe has obtained the rank of cadet commander, in which he leads weeklong encampments and the color guard that carries flags and replica rifles in area parades such as the Roche de Boeuf Festival.

“CAP is really what gave me the motivation to start truly excelling to make myself academy material,” he said. “I learned the basics of the Air Force and gained the confidence and leadership skills. I learned how to interact and lead people in resolving conflicts as a team. That’s very crucial. I don’t think that enough people in our generation get that experience.”

Joe sees parallels to CAP as a percussionist in the AWHS band.

“You’re part of something where if everyone isn’t committed, you won’t be successful,” he explained. “Band taught me something about teamwork.”

In addition to band, Joe joined the AW rowing team, which was disbanded his sophomore year. Undeterred, he formed his own recreational team through Toledo Rowing Club, serving as a sculler on a smaller boat.

“I’ve learned that with challenges you have to find a work-around,” he said. 

In addition to his high school and CAP responsibilities, Joe has been working on obtaining his private pilot’s license, completing 36 of the 40 hours needed – including his required solo flight.

“My plan is to have my license before I leave,” said Joe, who wants to become an Air Force pilot.

While at the academy, he plans to major in meteorology.

“As a student pilot, I learned how weather and atmospheric conditions play into how flight operations work,” he said. “I think it would be a good way to apply science and theory into ultimately going into flight school after the academy.”

With five years of Spanish classes, Joe also plans to minor in Spanish. He recently went on a weeklong tour of Spain with other high school students – an experience that helped him become more comfortable with the language.

Earning a 4.52 GPA and experience in CAP certainly played a big part in his landing a spot in the Air Force Academy, he said. As a retired lieutenant colonel and liaison officer for the Air Force Academy, his grandfather was also able to help Joe understand the process of applying to the academy. In addition to receiving nominations from U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Joe was also nominated by the academy president.

After he spends the week of June 15 leading 200 cadets in an encampment in Ravenna, Ohio, Joe will return home to pack his bags and head to Colorado Springs. He’s confident that he’ll be ready for the physical challenges of those first few months.

“But I could stand to do more running with weighted vests and packs,” he said.

Joe said he’s also mentally prepared, knowing that the academy is not like a normal college experience.

“You essentially leave your individuality behind. From the moment you step on the floor, you’re a part of a team. Rather than your own strengths and weaknesses, it’s everybody together – people from around the country and the world combining their strengths and weaknesses as a team,” he explained.

“The biggest thing that makes me want to go to a service academy is to be part of something greater than myself and direct something greater than myself to ensure the security of the country,” he added.

Joe credits his family, including his parents Joshua and Jessica and his sister Julia for supporting him as he pursued his goal of getting into the Air Force Academy.

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