Let the “force” be with him

A day in the life of: Corey Dowhower


Princess Saguban

Dowhower plays soccer with his German Shepherd Alexis during a chilly December afternoon to have fun and stay in shape. He plays with her nearly every day, even when the weather is cold.

For most seniors, the final semester of high school means fighting to be motivated in those last few classes, taking in every last moment of school events and extracurricular activities, and beginning to transition into the next stage of life.

However, for recent North Platte High School December graduate Corey Dowhower, high school life has already come to an end. The next chapter of his life will begin Jan. 31 when he leaves for Basic Military Training at the Lackland Airforce Base in San Antonio, Texas. “I want to get on with my life, there’s not much more I can do around here, and this is a good way to get a head start on my career,” Dowhower said. Dowhower views this opportunity as a significant leap forward. “I’ll be done with a college at least a year earlier than [the rest of my class] and I’ll save a lot of money,” he said.

Dowhower aspires to have a job in law enforcement after he gets out of the Air Force and he specifically hopes to work with service dogs. Dowhower says the Air Force can easily get him into the job he wants; he has seen many of his family members take this career path over the course of his life.

At age 12, Dowhower participated in a program focused on developing skills in people with an interest in the military. “I’ve wanted to [be in the Air Force] since I was a kid, but up until recently it wasn’t a reality,” he said. His journey began earlier in the year when he found a recruiter on Google, “[I] could text him, which is way better than calling,”he said. Since then, Dowhower has been doing some preparation on his own. “I run and bike a lot and I also do a workout program at my house,” he said.

Dowhower is also preparing mentally for his pursuit. “They try to roughly integrate you, so instead of making you their friend, they’re going to make you hate them so they gain your respect,” he said. Dowhower is not bothered by this. “I know it’s just an act. They’re actually really nice people,” he said.

Since deciding to graduate early and go to the Air Force, Dowhower has faced a variety of reactions. When asked how his friends felt about the news, Dowhower said, “What friends?” He went on to say that his friends at North Platte High all feel sad about him leaving but often joke with him about it. “My dad was pretty skeptical about me doing this at first because he thinks I’m weak,” Dowhower said. He said his mom first thought he was joking and “she kept trying to get me a job so I wouldn’t have to leave. She’s been helpful, though.”

One of the hardest goodbyes Dowhower faces is his girlfriend senior Katei Hunt. The two have been together for over two years. “At first he said he wasn’t gonna do it, then he changed his mind.” Dowhower says the next year will be really hard. “I won’t get to talk to her at all for two months. I’ll only get one phone call every once in awhile,” he said. Hunt will be attending Mid-Plains Community College for a year on a full ride softball scholarship. “When the year’s over, if everything works out, we’re probably gonna get married,” he said.

Dowhower says it still hasn’t really sunk in that he’s a graduate. He’s been making the most of his last few weeks before leaving for basic training. “I get yelled at for sleeping in too much,” he said. Before heading out at the end of this month, Dowhower plans to visit the military museum. Once he gets to basic training in San Antonio, he’ll be doing normal duties. He says he’ll be a regular guy at first. “I’ll stand around and make sure the airplanes don’t walk off or be on nighttime watch where you make sure all the people at the bars don’t kill each other, or be a military police officer,” he said. “At first it’ll be pretty boring, but later I’ll have the opportunity to move up and work with dogs.”

As this chapter of his life unfolds, Dowhower says he isn’t afraid. “[My biggest fear] is boredom because you can get stuck on a job you don’t want for four years,” he said. He said has not dealt with any fear of being killed. “I’m not scared of getting shot. People die every day from different things. If I’m going to die, I want it to be doing something meaningful [for] other people,” he said.