Parent groups reach out to cadets from hurricane-struck Gulf Coast

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AFNS) --

When Hurricane Harvey struck Texas, the North Texas Parent Club “got mobilized” and organized a dinner Sept. 1, 2017, at a Colorado Springs, Colorado restaurant for cadets from the Gulf Coast.

Hurricane Harvey, the largest rainstorm in the history of the continental U.S. according to some meteorologists, began pounding the region Aug. 26. It was downgraded to a tropical storm, but heavy rainfall again drubbed Texas and parts of Louisiana Aug. 30.

In all, 113 cadets at the Air Force Academy and six cadet candidates at the Prep School hail from the area.

Marie Nikovits, the Academy’s parent’s liaison, said, “We’re hoping parents open their homes to host cadets who can’t see their loved ones during Parents' Weekend.”

Parents' Weekend, Sept. 1-3, is one of the Academy’s most popular event for cadets and their families, second only to graduation, Nikovits said.

“Our parent groups recognize there’s a lot of cadets whose parents and relatives in the Gulf Coast region are at best, unable to travel to Colorado to see them, and at worst, dealing with the after effects of this hurricane,” she said.

Nikovits said parent clubs outside Texas and parents attending Parents Weekend are welcome to participate.

“They’re part of our team and judging from the phone calls, they’re really eager to help these cadets and families,” she said. “For our freshmen cadets, Parents' Weekend is the first real chance they get to see their families in months.”

Maj. Walter McMillen, the air operations commander for Cadet Squadron 22 and project officer for Parents' Weekend, said there’s been a “huge rallying cry” from cadets in his squadron for Cadet 2nd Class Ashley Cameron, who calls the Gulf Coast region home.

“Her parents won’t be here during Parents' Weekend and the other cadets in the squadron have reached out and invited her to spend time with their families,” he said. “Having your family here during the first relaxing weekend for many cadets is very special. They want to express their pride, especially the freshman cadets who just graduated basic training.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, Hurricane Harvey is responsible for more than 22 deaths and displaced more than 30,000 people.