Sponsored By
An organization or individual has paid for the creation of this work but did not approve or review it.



BORN INTO THE MILITARY: GF student aims for West Point

It was her choice, her decision, to go military. But Ashley Zeitvogel, a 2011 graduate of Grand Forks Red River High School, had some guiding lights.

Ashley Zeitvogel, a 2011 graduate of Grand Forks Red River High School, has been nominated to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Zeitvogel comes from a long line of military service including her dad, Alan and her mom, Carol. Herald photo by Eric Hylden.

It was her choice, her decision, to go military. But Ashley Zeitvogel, a 2011 graduate of Grand Forks Red River High School, had some guiding lights.

Her mother, Carol, is a retired Army first sergeant who teaches Junior ROTC classes in both local high schools. Her father, Alan, served seven years in the Air Force and works now for the U.S. Border Patrol.

"My great-great grandfather was in the Army Air Corps, before it became the Air Force," she said. "People on my dad's side have been mostly Air Force. My mom's father was in the Navy.

"I was born on a military base, at Fort Riley, Kansas. It's always been a part of my life."

Zeitvogel, 18, is about to take her place in the long family line. Last month, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., nominated her for appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.


"She will make an outstanding soldier," her father said.

She got a head start, attending the academy's prep school this year. She was named a squad leader, then company first sergeant, and she recently won promotion to battalion commander, leading all 236 cadets. She is one of 36 women.

The one-year prep school "is a way to strengthen the candidates academically and physically, so they can meet the demands of the academy," she said.

She is used to the rigors of physical training. She holds the pole vault record at Red River and placed first in the event at the state track meet her junior year. She plans to compete on the West Point track team.

All the armed services academies require potential students to be nominated by a member of Congress or the vice president. It's the first step in a long application process, with final appointments determined by the academies. Students who are accepted receive scholarships and full military appointments.

Zeitvogel is working on her application and doesn't take anything for granted, but her performance at the military prep school suggests her chances are good.

"I'm pretty confident," she said.



Conrad nominated eight other North Dakota students for appointments, including Jordan Senff, Grand Forks, a UND sophomore (U.S. Naval Academy) and Summer Schluchter, a student at Cavalier High School (U.S. Air Force Academy).

"These young men and women are some of North Dakota's best and brightest," Conrad said in making the nominations. "They are a credit to both our state and our nation."

Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D., announced this week that he has nominated seven state students for appointments, including Timothy Dillon Bush, Grand Forks, who is studying at the University of South Florida, for the Air Force Academy. His father, Col. Timothy Bush, a graduate of the academy, serves at Grand Forks Air Force Base.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., will announce his nominations early in January, a spokesman said.

Zeitvogel was in the sixth grade when her family came to Grand Forks. A sister, Michele, serves in the Air Force. Another sister, Daniele, attends UND on an ROTC scholarship and expects to receive her commission in two years.

Her parents didn't push her to seek a military career, she said.

"They support my sisters and me in whatever we do, and it was our decision," she said. "But I liked the example they set."

"We gave them options, but it's their decision what to do," Alan Zeitvogel said. "But the family history probably had some influence. It's in their genes."


Returning to Grand Forks for the holidays, Ashley brought her academy prep school uniform along and spoke to Junior ROTC classes at Grand Forks Central and Red River.

"I can't really picture myself doing anything else," she said. "I want to give back to the country for everything it's given me."

Other North Dakota students nominated by Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., for appointment to the nation's service academies: Trevor Hoggan, Minot (Air Force); Miles Way, Minot (Air Force); Jack Fagerland, Minot (West Point); Mathew Martino, Fargo (West Point); Christina Hardie, Fairmount (Navy), and Paul Gardner, New England (Merchant Marine). Gardner also was nominated by Rep. Rick Berg, R-N.D.

Others nominated by Berg: David Sundberg, Bismarck (West Point); Abby Bierschbach, Minot (West Point)' Jacob Fischer, West Fargo (Air Force); Brian Anderson, Harvey (Navy), and David Johnson, Fargo (Navy).

What To Read Next
Get Local