By Kassie Parisi
CLIFTON PARK —Sawyer Martin, along with countless other young adults, graduated from college just a few months ago. But unlike others, Martin, 22, has seen, done, and been through more than most people ever will.
Martin, a Clifton Park native, has spent the past four years at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado. He graduated on May 7.
Right now, Martin is abroad with some of his close friends who went through basic training with him, but Martin’s parents, Bill and Brenda, talked about their son’s journey through the ranks at school, and about how he has inspired other cadets, including his younger brother Spencer, to find their passions while in the Air Force.
Martin graduated from Shenendehowa Central High in 2013. While he was at the Academy, he made the Dean’s list multiple times. He is fluent in German, and studied abroad in Germany for a semester during his junior year, taking on many different high level courses in the language. He majored in Operations Research, a complicated, multi-pronged program that focuses on math, computer science, economics, and management.
During his senior year, Martin was promoted to the rank of Squadron Commander, a leadership position granted to some cadets who have proven themselves capable of holding the responsibility of being a resource and example for other cadets. The Academy, explained Brenda, focuses on multiple components, including academics, physical fitness, and military training, and Sawyer was able to rise through the ranks of cadet leadership.
An avid traveler, Martin not only traveled abroad during his junior year, but also visited other places around the world, sometimes as part of extra-curricular programs offered by the Academy. He enjoyed it so much that he sacrificed his chance to come home to fly out to other places and take part in academic and military programs.
Martin originally owed five years of service to the Air Force from school, but his plans have since changed. He now wants to fly fighter jets, either an F-22 or F-35. Recently, Martin was able to go up in a plane with a pilot as he flew over Albany. As the pilot flipped the plane around and flew over his hometown, Martin had found a new passion, and set his sights on pursuing it.
Martin will depart for the Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma at the end of July to start pilot training, a process that can take up to 18 months. Martin will now owe 12 years of service as opposed to the original five, but the top graduating cadets in the class have their choice of planes to fly, depending on what the Air Force needs at the time of graduation.
Back at home, with one child having graduated from the Academy and the other around halfway through his education there, Bill and Brenda have become self taught experts about the school, and what cadets experience upon arrival. But, they said, like other parents of college students, they don’t know about every single thing that Sawyer did while at school.
While they are aware of his leadership positions, and his impressive academics, they have come to be familiar with the Sawyer’s and other cadet’s tendencies to not brag, or even talk about their accomplishments, opting to put the Academy’s core values of integrity, service before self, and excellence in all things first.
“He’s very confident. He’s very thoughtful, but confident,” Brenda said. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care, and I think it was really caring on the part of Sawyer that got the squadron caring about themselves as a team.”