ETHS graduate gets second chance at military life


Source: Pam Strunk

ETHS graduate Philip Strunk was recently nominated for the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Josh Walfish, Sports Editor

A year after being rejected by the U.S. Air Force Academy, Philip Strunk realized he was not ready for military life.

But after spending a year at a military prep school, the Evanston Township High School graduate finally got a nomination from Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) to the Air Force Academy, where he will enroll at the end of June.

He spent the past year at Greystone Preparatory School in Kerrville, Texas, preparing for his second chance at the military. The school works in coordination with Schreiner University.

“I realize the hard work of how hard the academics are at a university,” Strunk said. “I know that the academies are that much harder because you have military training on the side. (The last year has) really taught me things I didn’t have coming out of high school. I would have basically been hit by a train if I had gone straight to the academy.”

The decision to enroll at a military academy was one Strunk said he made early on. Faith is a large part of Strunk’s life, and he said he joined the military not only to serve his country, but also to serve God.

He applied to only the Air Force Academy out of high school, but said he was open to enrolling in other service academies after spending the year at Greystone.

Strunk learned attributes needed to succeed at a service academy during his four years at ETHS. He was a three-sport athlete, competing in soccer, diving and volleyball.

He said he learned how to stay disciplined and to manage his time as a student athlete in high school. Strunk said soccer helped him with his fitness test for the academy, and his position as captain of the diving and volleyball teams helped him develop his leadership abilities.

Strunk said he misses his family and friends the most, but he also misses the Evanston winters. He said he was excited to see snow on the ground when he returned home for Christmas. However, he said he does not dwell on the life he left behind in Evanston.

“I don’t really have time to sit down and think about the things that I miss,” Strunk said. “It’s my home and it will always be my home because that’s where I grew up.”

He said he trusts in his faith to help him deal with whatever struggles he has to face — most notably the danger of being in the military.

“I know the profession that I chose. I could be put in harm’s way,” Strunk said. “And I know what happens is all in God’s plan.”

As for his mother, she said she understands the risks, but won’t spend her time worrying about her son’s safety.

“It’s not my personality to worry a lot,” Pam Strunk said. “We know about the dangers, and it breaks my heart to hear about the crashes. There is no place that’s totally safe, and you can’t live your life in fear.”