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NEWS | April 22, 2022

U.S. Air Force Academy Accepts First Marshallese Citizen

By Jessica Dambruch

U.S. Army Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll -- One graduating senior at Kwajalein High School received life-changing news, on April 9, 2022,

U.S. Army Garrison-Kwajalein Atoll congratulates Kwajalein High School Ri-Katak student Michael Lojkar, the first-ever Marshallese citizen to earn an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Lojkar will join the USAF Academy class of 2026.

Lojkar was notified of his candidacy in a special meeting at the Kwajalein High School Library. Called in from classes, he was surprised to find his father, Martin Lojkar and personnel from the USAG-KA Command team and Kwajalein School System there to meet him.

USAG-KA Director of Host Nation Activities Maj. Jay Parsons said he was pleased to be the messenger for such auspicious news.

“You’re the first Marshallese citizen to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy,” Parsons said.

Parsons recognized the import of Lojkar’s acceptance. He shared that receiving the affirmation of candidacy from the USAF Directorate of Admissions had even made him a little nervous that morning. Lojkar had chosen not to apply to any other U.S. military service branch, effectively “putting all his eggs in one basket.”

“It looks like things worked out!” Parsons said.

Department of the Army Civilian employees stepped forward to offer Lojkar and his father words of encouragement and support. USAG-KA RMI Relations Specialist Mike Sakaio, who previously served as a USAF staff sergeant in addition to his service in the U.S. Coast Guard; USAG-KA Attorney David Creed, who served as a USAF captain; and Maj. Justin Collup, USAF Inactive Reserve, shared in few moments of lighthearted camaraderie to mark the beginning of Lojkar’s career.

“Just think,” joked Creed. “In 20 years, every garment you own will be blue!”

Knowing the days ahead would be busy, Parsons advised Lojkar to “be prepared to have his photo all over the place,” and to stay focused. The real work was about to begin.

Before departing the school, he presented Lojkar with a hefty binder of pre-entrance activities detailing required documents and procedures to undertake in the time leading up to his first day at the Academy.

“We’ve still got some work on your physical training to do,” said Parsons. “Now, you also have some paperwork to take care of.”

The news was a lot to take in, Michael’s father, Martin Lojkar, a Range Generation Next Information Technology specialist, said of his son’s accomplishment. Michael, a free spirit, enjoyed “technical things,” Martin said. His strong technical aptitude, months of physical fitness training and team-spirited work ethic would serve him well on his future career path.

“The USAF was at the top of Michael’s list,” Martin said. “He wanted the challenge. Our family is just really proud of him.”

Following the meeting, Lojkar returned to classes. Congratulations from numerous classmates, school employees and USAF-connected personnel serving on USAG-KA continued throughout the week.

“Michael is an outstanding representative of Kwajalein schools, and we are proud of him for this amazing accomplishment,” said KHS Principal Matthew Gerber. “From years of effort in the classroom to early morning workouts, Michael has worked very hard for this opportunity. Congratulations, Michael!”

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