By Jean Choi

David Choi with his letter of acceptance from the U.S. Air Force.

David Choi was raised in Hopewell Township and is a young man who benefited from the Hopewell Valley School District’s academic program. He attended Stony Brook Elementary School in Kindergarten then went to Timberlane Middle School, and finally graduated from Hopewell Valley Central High School on June 20.

When most seniors are enjoying the summer travelling, working, volunteering, and relaxing before the start of the college year, Choi was at a six-week intensive bootcamp among the cadets selected across the country who received the honor of being appointed to the prestigious U.S. Air Force Academy located in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

This training will be some of the toughest the cadets will experience in their four years at the academy. It is a process intended to eliminate anyone who is not mentally nor physically fit for becoming a leader in the USAFA.

Upon graduation, all cadets are promoted to second lieutenant and awarded a commission to serve in the Air Force. Each candidate must demonstrate academic, athletic, community involvements and extracurricular activities that make them outstanding. There is a high percentage of valedictorians, team captains, outstanding athletes, and leaders representing their community.

Every year, more than 10,000 students apply to the academy. Only 1,147 were picked this year for the Class of 2023. One hurdle for applicants is the requirement that they secure a nomination from the president, vice president, of a member of Congress. Members of Congress can have no more than five nominated cadets in the academy at any given time, so the nomination process is very competitive.

Choi received a nomination from Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, representing New Jersey’s 12th District. He was offered an appointment from Lt. Colonel Doyle representing the U.S. Air Force Academy at the Hopewell Valley Central High School’s Academic Awards Ceremony on June 13.

After spending a week celebrating high school graduation with his friends, Choi flew to the USAFA with his father for In Processing Day and to start his long journey to become an officer in the U.S. Air Force. On I-Day, he wore a Hopewell Track and Field Shirt displaying the high school mascot Bulldog.

Choi was inspired to join the military when he joined the U.S. Naval Seacadet Corp John T. Dempster Jr. Division in Lawrence, which was ranked 3rd in the nation among 400 Seacadet divisions across the country. The leadership program for kids ages 10-19 aims to teach the basics of military service and the sense of service for the community and country.

There is a twist of fate to Choi’s story. Students who attend Stony Brook Elementary School are asked to write a letter to themselves in fifth grade, saying where they think they will be in five years. A few days before their graduation from high school, the students are given their old letters to read.

Over the years, Choi had forgotten that he had written the letter, and was shocked when he reread it for the first time. In the letter, he wrote that his future goal was to become either a scientist or an Air Force pilot.

Jean Choi is David Choi’s mother.