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Westfield native navigates through Air Force Academy with precision

Date: 6/16/2009

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD -- Second Lt. Sean Sullivan of Westfield is the embodiment of the Air Force core values: "integrity first; service before self; and excellence in all we do."

He navigated through the past four years at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado with one destination in mind: pilot training. Sullivan is one of 520 graduates out of this year's class of 1,046 to receive admission into undergraduate pilot training.

"I've always wanted to fly," he told Reminder Publications of his choice to enter the academy after graduating from Westfield High School in 2005.

Sullivan added he had no qualms about signing on for the mandatory 10-year service agreement required for entrance into pilot training.

Joshua McIntosh, head coach of the Air Force Academy's Club Hockey Team, described Sullivan as a player with an unparalleled work ethic and practice regimen, along with intense dedication to the team.

Sullivan's skills did not go unnoticed by his teammates, who voted him captain during his junior year, an honor usually granted to a senior, he noted.

"He added energy [to the team] that we wouldn't have [had otherwise]," McIntosh said. "He would always want to do more work ... to do better as a hockey player."

Sullivan was also named director of Hockey Operations for the academy's Club Team, a member of the American Collegiate Hockey Association.

"I know he's always been very focused and self-disciplined young man," Donna Sullivan, Sean's mother, said of his accomplishments in and out of the classroom. "I feel very confident that our Air Force has one of the best."

She noted that her son's attention to detail and time management have not waned since returning home for his 60-day post-graduate leave. Donna said Sean has a list of priorities, including spending time with his four siblings, to ensure that he makes the most out of his time at home.

Sean will report to his first duty station at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma for pilot training in the coming weeks. He said he's ready for anything, including learning the dynamics of military life during wartime.

"In the back of [our] heads, everyone wants to live but [you know] the person beside you is fighting next to you and will be there for you," Sean said. "The Air Force prepares you well but there's no 100 percent [guarantee of survival]."