‘Space is the limit’ for area’s lone 2024 graduate to join the U.S. Space Force

18-year-old Dylan Lee, a graduate of Medina Valley High School, will begin basic training at JBSA Lackland June 25.

CASTROVILLE, Texas — Up, up and away.

Medina Valley High School graduate, 18-year-old Dylan Lee, has his eye on the skies.

Out of thousands of new recruits from the class of 2024 in our area, he’s the only one joining the U.S. Space Force. The area includes San Antonio, spanning West to Del Rio and north to Kerrville. 

As KENS 5 learned, it’s a decision that made perfect sense to those who know Lee best.

“Ready to get started,” Lee told us in the library at his alma mater Wednesday. “I’m super excited to start this next chapter of my life.”

Lee was over the moon when he got the call about getting accepted into the newest branch of the military. He said it’s a process that could take months, and he was ecstatic to receive the phone call in a matter of weeks.

“How did you react to the news?” we asked him. “Did you run circles around the house? Did you grab your mom, like, ‘Oh my gosh!'”

“It was more my mom grabbing me and shaking me a bunch!” he replied, with his mom laughing nearby as she listened in to our interview.

Originally, Lee said he was considering the Air Force for their cyber program.

“I’ve always been really big into cybersecurity,” he explained. “Practically everything we have today is rooted around cyber technology and if we don’t protect it, it’s a huge weakness that could end up injuring a lot of society.”

A military recruiter suggested a different path for Lee, encouraging a branch where more opportunities were in-tune with cybersecurity: The Space Force.

We are proud of our students!

Posted by Medina Valley High School on Thursday, May 16, 2024

“It delves down into just my love for computers and the way of protecting them,” said Lee.

What helped solidify his decision, he said, was an endorsement from his older brother Travis, an Air Force mechanic. 

“I was basically raised as an only child, but he was still there in my life and he was always such a big inspiration for me…watching him go out in the world and pursue his dreams,” said Lee. “He always talked about how he wished he had joined sooner. It was just amazing to see how happy the military made him. I thought what a great way to follow in his steps.”

Before Lee’s teachers at Medina Valley knew about his decision to join the military, they saw a future in music.

“I was like, you could probably study music and do well at it because he plays flute really, really well and he sings really, really well,” said Juan Carlos Rodriguez, Director of Fine Arts and Band Director at Medina Valley High School.

Rodriguez, along with Lee’s Choir Director, Jen Colton-Fowler, believe the high school’s high expectations and access to programs help guide students to success. Lee, they agree, is the perfect example. Rodriguez remembers Lee’s inquisitiveness standing out his first year at the high school.

“‘Do this one thing!’ And there was like 20 questions that followed,” Rodriguez recalled, with a smile. “It doesn’t surprise me that he’s choosing to go into a field that requires attention-to-detail, being personable and working really hard to achieve a goal.”

In the past two years, Lee became a section leader and a drum leader in the Medina Valley High School band.

Colton-Fowler said she quickly figured out Lee was a rising leader in the varsity mixed choir, too.

“You could show him a concept and he would immediately want to know everything that led up to it and where it was going to go from there,” she explained. “He has such a thirst for knowledge and he’s really quick at processing information and then trying to apply it.”

Both instructors are confident Lee’s attitude, drive and work ethic will skyrocket him to success in any endeavor.

When we asked their prediction about where their Space Force student will be in five years, they replied with confidence:

“He probably has some level of classification clearance that we’ll never achieve,” said Rodriguez.

“I’d say sky’s the limit, but I think it’s more like space is the limit for him,” added Colton-Fowler.

Both hope Lee will return to the high school to inspire more students to follow their dreams.

Lee will begin basic training June 25 at JBSA Lackland. He’s set to finish by mid-August. He’s hoping to land a job at a base in Colorado, where he will also be able to take in the sights and ride the river.

“I’m surprised more people haven’t seen this opportunity that’s there. With the U.S. Space Force being such a new branch, there’s so much more room for growth,” said Lee. “I can really see myself making history in that branch.”

In May, the non-profit Our Community Salutes San Antonio celebrated graduates who raised their hands to join the military straight out of high school. That’s where we first met Lee, who received loud applause as he crossed the stage as the final honoree of the night. As he smiled for a photo, someone in the crowd yelled, “To infinity and beyond!”

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