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Ocean Springs senior carrying on family legacy with appointment to Air Force Academy

Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 7:34 AM CDT
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OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - An Ocean Springs High senior has achieved a goal he’s dreamed about his entire life. Receiving an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy is a huge accomplishment in and of itself, but for Ashton Rubio and his family, it’s also a full circle moment.

Col. Stuart Rubio is the admissions liaison for the Academy here on the Gulf Coast. Each year, he goes to schools to present Academy appointments to graduating seniors. But last week, that presentation was more emotional than usual.

Col. Stuart Rubio presents his son Ashton with an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy...
Col. Stuart Rubio presents his son Ashton with an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy during an awards ceremony at Ocean Springs High.(Submitted)

Rubio had the honor of presenting his own son with an appointment at the Ocean Springs High senior awards ceremony.

“Obviously, the other ones don’t quite mean as much as giving it to your own son,” he said. “So, I just about made it through, without choking up.”

Ocean Springs High senior Ashton Rubio will be going to Colorado in the fall to attend the U.S....
Ocean Springs High senior Ashton Rubio will be going to Colorado in the fall to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy.(Submitted)

And, it was a special moment for Ashton, as well.

“It meant a lot,” he said. “It was really cool, especially because it was in front of my entire class. Everybody was there. And, it kind of felt like it was ... real.”

It was, in a way, a full circle moment for his parents. They are both graduates of the Academy.

Col. Stuart Rubio and his wife Megan also both received appointments to the U.S. Air Force...
Col. Stuart Rubio and his wife Megan also both received appointments to the U.S. Air Force Academy.(Submitted)

Ashton’s mom Megan would become an astronautical engineer; his dad, a C-130 pilot. And, next month, Col. Rubio will be the new commander of the 403rd Wing at Keesler Air Force Base.

He knows a qualified cadet when he sees one.

“I’ve said many times, I couldn’t find a single chink in his armor,” said the colonel.

Ashton has done plenty to deserve the honor.

In addition to a stellar academic career, he has excelled in leadership roles in athletics. He was a team captain on the Ocean Springs Greyhounds Lacrosse team; he ran cross country; and he was the band’s drum major. He also is an honors graduate and served as a member of the Mayor’s Youth Council, along with several other extracurricular activities.

In addition to stellar academics, Ashton Rubio was also the drum major for the Ocean Springs...
In addition to stellar academics, Ashton Rubio was also the drum major for the Ocean Springs High marching band.(Submitted)

The appointment is a natural next step.

“I’ve grown up my whole life around Air Force officers and just the Air Force way of life,” Ashton said. “And I’ve seen the life of service that they give. That call to service is something that I’ve always felt.”

At a young age, Ashton knew he wanted to go to the Air Force Academy.
At a young age, Ashton knew he wanted to go to the Air Force Academy.(Submitted)

His parents never pushed, he said, but rather, inspired. He remembered a trip to the Academy as a sixth-grader.

“That was a big boost toward wanting to attend because I was able to see myself there,” Ashton said. “I was able to see all the places that I’ve heard stories about from my parents and kind of be able to envision myself in those stories and doing those things at the academy.”

Ashton Rubio and his dad look out over the U.S. Air Force Academy during a visit to Colorado...
Ashton Rubio and his dad look out over the U.S. Air Force Academy during a visit to Colorado when he was in the sixth grade.(Submitted)

Both parents have provided plenty of orientation and tips on what will come next.

“He’s heard it all,” said his mom. “At one point, my younger son said, ‘Mom, it kind of sounds like you’re trying to talk him out of going’ because we have been very honest about the challenges he will face. But, he’s the kind of kid that thrives on that kind of stuff.”

Ashton will graduate along with his fellow seniors at Ocean Springs High School this Thursday.

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