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Academy Bound Hodges Earns Scholarship
A Riverbank High senior recently learned he has won a $414,000 full ride scholarship to attend the Air Force Academy in Colorado for four years, be commissioned as an officer and serve five years in the Air Force.

Ben Hodges is this year's commander of the school's Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps unit. He has served with it since his freshman year.

He is high on the academic lists at RHS, holding a 4.6 grade point average and taking advanced placement college courses in English, Calculus and US History.

Hodges is a leading runner on the cross-country team and qualified for the state competition this year. He got the stitches and bandage on his knee prominent in the CIF championships from a fall while skiing, he noted. He also competes in the one- and two-mile runs during the track season.

"He's a model student and a quiet but effective leader," said RHS Principal Christine Facella. "He's been with the ROTC since his freshman year and carries himself in a very mature way. I'm very excited for him and wish him the very best."

"He applied for the Naval Academy as well but the Air Force acceptance came through first," said Hodges' school counselor, Denny Carl. "He had his heart set on the Air Force Academy. That's what he wanted. And now, he's good to go."

Congressman George Radanovich recommended him to the Academy. Congressmen are allowed to sponsor up to four or five students in their district per year.

"It's very competitive. I applied to both. But the Air Force Academy was my first choice," said Hodges.

Besides winning the Congressman's nomination, Hodges had to be accepted by the Academy on the strength of his application papers, academic transcripts, grades, activities and leadership in his school.

"I became interested in the military when I was in junior high (Cardozo Middle School)," said Hodges. "Nobody in my immediate family is in the military. But relatives of mine served during World War II and in Korea."

His parents are Jesse and Jennifer Hodges. Ben is their third child and has an older brother, an older sister and a younger sister.

Hodges has not yet turned 18. That will come in January. But starting next June or July, he will travel to the Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado and embark on four years of training. After that he will be commissioned as a second lieutenant and serve at least five years in the Air Force. Additional courses may extend his training and service.

The son of local sheriff's deputy Gary Vernon won a similar all expenses paid scholarship from RHS to the Naval Academy at Annapolis a few years ago.