AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — He grew up with the Air Force Academy in his own backyard, now hometown cadet Kainoa Likewise is a commissioned officer.

“I grew up across the street, actually up Northgate Boulevard,” Likewise said of the Academy. “Actually, I didn’t want to come here at first,” he added.

Likewise initially moved to Charlotte, North Carolina to play soccer. He said during that year, he had time to think about his options, and serving in the military drew him in more and more. He came back home to Colorado to attend the Academy, and to play goalkeeper for the Air Force Falcons men’s soccer team.

“I would say one of the best things about this place is just how close you get to everyone. Your classmates, your squadmates, and your teammates,” said Likewise.

Four years later, on May 25, 2022, he walked across Falcon Stadium, just around the corner from Clune Arena, where his high school graduation was held.

“Growing up here, you see it all the time in high school, like the Thunderbirds would always fly over and it’s always really neat but to actually be here it’s a pretty surreal experience.”

Likewise now heads to pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas and Seal Selection in June.