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8:27 PM Fri, Nov. 16th

Benson achieves dream

KHS grad takes long road to Air Force Academy

KINGMAN - Airman first class Cory Benson is about to lose the stripes he wears on his sleeve and his job in avionics servicing U-2 spy planes for the Air Force.

He has received an appointment from the Air Force to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He is to report for basic cadet training June 28 as he begins study leading toward an officer's commission following graduation in 2011.

Benson, 22, graduated from Kingman High School in 2003 and was a National Merit Scholar. He is the son of Frank and Karen Benson.

"The Air Force holds a certain number of spots in its academy for enlisted men, and Cory was selected," Frank Benson said. "He was nominated in the past by both Jon Kyl and Trent Franks, but has received a medical waiver."

Cory had an incorrect listing of asthma on his medical history and that matter was resolved, clearing the way for his appointment, Frank Benson said.

Cory was elected to the KHS Student Council all four years he attended the school. He earned state of Arizona math awards in his sophomore, junior and senior years.

In addition, Cory participated in an Air Force Academy summer program in Colorado Springs between his junior and senior years, Karen Benson said.

"Cory received a scholarship to Arizona State University, but found it was not his cup of tea," Frank Benson said. "He also attended Mohave Community College for one semester before deciding he wanted to serve his country."

Cory joined the Air Force on Oct. 4, 2005. He graduated first in his class of 629 from basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Karen Benson said.

Benson has been stationed for nearly one year at Beale Air Force Base in Marysvale, Calif. He received the base's Airman of the Quarter Award at the end of 2006, Karen Benson said.

Frank Benson said his son plans to pursue some sort of engineering degree at the Air Force Academy. He hopes to fly fighters.

He was asked how he feels about Cory switching from enlisted to officer status.

"I'm thrilled," Frank Benson said. "It has been a dream of his since age 13.

"I spent more hours on the phone with congressmen and medical examiner review boards when he was in high school. It now sounds like all I had to do was get out of the mix and it got taken care of."