MOAACC honors local graduates during annual luncheon


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Cocoa Beach Junior/Senior High School’s Army JROTC prepares to present the colors at a MOAACC luncheon honoring Brevard students who were appointed to military academies or received ROTC college scholarships.

photo by R. Norman Moody

When Ken Willoughby first visited the United States Military Academy at West Point, he was sure it was where he wanted to start his military career following graduation from Astronaut High.

“As soon as I first stepped on the campus, I knew I belonged there,” said Willoughby, who will play football for the Black Knights.

The Military Officers Association of America Cape Canaveral chapter, during a luncheon May 16, honored Willoughby and 23 other Brevard graduating high school seniors who were appointed to military academies or received Reserve Officer Training Corps college scholarships.

“It’s definitely an honor,” said Willoughby, who plans to major in civil engineering. “It’s awesome that they take care of their own.”

For years, MOAACC members have honored students headed to military careers during the luncheons at the Colony Hall in the Indian River Colony Club community in Viera.

Ivanska Rosich, who graduated from Florida Preparatory Academy and is headed to the Air Force Academy to study biology, said it was an encouragement to the students as they leave to begin their military careers.

“It’s more like an honor,” she said. “It’s a big deal.”

MOAACC first vice president Gary Eppler said that those appointed to the academies and selected for ROTC scholarships are all well rounded and mature students. 

“It’s inspiring,” he said before the students were presented to an audience of about 100. “They are not the typical high school kids.”

Merritt Island High graduate Miles Butler said he was appreciative that the veterans have an interest in seeing the students following in their footsteps and succeeding in their military careers.

The other students are:

Viera High

  • Kyle Crocker – Marion Military Institute
  • Brandon Turney – ROTC Marion Military Institute
  • Nicole Sjoden – ROTC Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
  • Ferris Thrower – ROTC Marion Military Institute 
  • Shahana Gray – Air Force Academy Prep School
  • Nicholas Hibbs – ROTC Marion Military Institute 
  • Logan Ewing – ROTC University of Central Florida
  • Jack Adams – ROTC University of Florida 

Merritt Island High

  • Casey Bass – ROTC Stetson University
  • Curtis Batchelor – ROTC University of North Georgia
  • Sami Dunlap – ROTC Stetson University
  •  Tessa Harvey – ROTC Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
  • Matt Lake – ROTC Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
  • Erin McCarthy – U.S. Military Academy
  • Heather Miller – U.S. Coast Guard Academy
  • Josh Ordonez – U.S. Coast Guard Academy
  • Kevin Taylor – ROTC Florida Institute of Technology
  • Bill White – ROTC Norwich University

Satellite High

  • Eric Witherspoon – ROTC Florida State University
  • Sophronia Eckenrode – ROTC University of Miami
  • Cocoa Beach Junior/Senior High
  • Cameron Ferreira – ROTC Norwich University