Tyndall teenager selected as Air Force Military Child of the Year

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Christopher Reel
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Tyndall teenager Nicole Goetz, 17, recently selected as the Air Force Military Child of the Year, was awarded a flight in air show performer Greg Poe's aerobatic airplane March 23.

This year's 2011 Gulf Coast Salute Open House and Air Show, hosted by Tyndall officials March 26 and 27, featured various military and civilian aerial demonstrations and static displays, including Greg Poe's high flying stunts in his brand new ethanol-powered Fagen MXS and Fagen A36 Bonanza.

"I was really excited to have the opportunity to fly with Greg," Nicole said. "How many people are given the opportunity to fly in a stunt plane?"

Five children, each representing their parent's branch of service, received $5,000 for being selected in the competition, which is sponsored by Operation Homefront. They will be flown with a parent or guardian to Washington, D.C., for a recognition ceremony April 7 which will include meeting first lady Michelle Obama.

Nicole was selected out of approximately 750 applicants Air Force-wide for her volunteer service at a youth center, her church, veterans' and nursing homes, and for her participation in a number of clubs in her high school. This came as part of her effort to embrace her new community while her father is deployed.

"I was chosen about two months ago," Nicole said. "Being really involved with the community, I think, is what helped me get selected. It helped me earn the honor, but it also makes the time my dad is deployed go by much faster."

Nicole's father, Chief Master Sgt. Michael Goetz, the 325th Mission Support Group superintendent, has been deployed since last April. He was also deployed six months prior to his current deployment. For almost half of her high school career, her father has been serving on deployments. It can be a challenging time for many children across all branches of service in today's military families.

Since being nominated as the Air Force Military Child of the Year, she has had the opportunity to experience a lot of things, such as flying in Greg Poe's aerobatic stunt plane and traveling to new places.

"I was excited and honored when I found out I received Air Force Military Child of the Year," said Nicole. "My mom actually nominated me for the award in secret and she started asking me about past community service and I began to get suspicious. Shortly after, I got her to tell me why."

Nicole is currently working on a fundraising project that will aid the victims of Japan's earthquake and tsunami disaster. During the past holiday season, she also organized an effort involving 21 local schools to create and send hundreds of homemade Christmas cards, cookies and care packages to troops overseas.

She still finds time for her younger brother, Michael, 11. Nicole tutors him in school work when he needs extra help. And when he's especially missing their dad, she takes him to the movies.

"It gets lonely not having my dad around," he said. "But Nicole helps make the time go by a lot faster for me."

Nicole also has some advice to pass on to other military children who have deployed loved ones.

"Being a military child gives me the opportunity to see and meet a lot of people," Nicole said. "My advice for others who have a deployed parent or parents, is to get involved. If you keep busy, it keeps your mind off of how much you miss them and it benefits your community as well."