Cadet Dylan Hill (left) and Corpsman Brianna Barnes visit with Lt. Col. Allen Kirksey (ret.) while back in Maricopa for the holidays. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson


Maricopa High School graduates now in the U.S. military dropped in on their former Junior ROTC instructor while home for the holidays.

Brianna Barnes, a Navy corpsman, and Dylan Hill, a cadet at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduated from MHS in 2018 and participated in the school’s Air Force Junior ROTC program.

“It’s a lot of training,” Hill said of her experience at West Point, where she often sees MHS’s other cadet, John Blodgett, who graduated in 2017.

“A lot of the training the whole Army goes through with their basic training is the same for us,” Hill said. “The only difference is that during the school year we have military training on weekends. So, that can be anywhere from running 12 miles to going shooting and things like that. It’s pretty cold right now, so that complicates it a little bit.”

Barnes said there are high expectations of those aiming to be hospital corpsmen, a rank that has earned 23 Navy Medals of Honor. “The standards are really high, so we have to be on top of our game all the time,” she said.

Barnes said she chose the Navy because she wanted to work in the medical field, but medical school felt out of reach. As a hospital corpsman she will get training and experience. She is stationed in San Antonio, Texas.

“I have a month left to train, and then I’m off to Cuba,” Barnes said.


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