Childress enters next chapter at Air Force Academy

Published 3:34 pm Friday, June 24, 2022

BROOKHAVEN — Ole Brook runner Grayson Childress is now at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He plans to study engineering there and attend flight school. 

His first day at the Academy is called Induction Day, or I-Day. It is the day he and other cadets will be sworn in and swear an oath. I-Day is the start of six weeks of basic training, four years of college and five years of mandatory service. 

“I’m super excited but I’m also a little nervous,” Childress said a week before leaving. “I’m excited for what is about to go down and what the future holds.” 

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Childress, who won the 5A State title in the mile with 4:26 this year, said he was looking forward to the team aspect of being in the military. He could make the Air Force Cross Country and Track team but needs to knock one more second off his time. 

Before the state meet, the Air Force track coach told him he needed a 4:23 mile to be recruited athletically. It is a time that is doable with pacers but in the race environment, it can be a bit challenging.

Running will help with basic training but he doesn’t know what to expect other than the physical tests will be tough. 

“I have been working out and getting ready,” Childress said. “It will be a shock, I think at first. I will be in the mud in full combat gear getting yelled at. It will be a shock to the body so I’m going to try and be prepared.” 

During his Cross Country runs, Childress said he thought of two basic mantras. “Don’t give up,” and “It is worth it.” Those both helped him become a strong runner and they will help him in Colorado Springs. He said most days runners don’t see improvements but on race day you see those final results and it ends up being worth it. 

He said at the Academy, most people quit in the first six weeks. It is a huge opportunity for him and just completing basic training would be an accomplishment. 

Answering a higher call

In his last few days in Brookhaven, he is scrambling trying to get security clearances and travel orders done. He is getting the things he needs for basic things like toiletries, seeing a little bit of everyone like his friends, family and writing thank you cards for graduation gifts. 

Sunday he will have a going away party at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. He hopes to take care of one more task before shipping off to Colorado Springs. 

About seven years ago, he became a follower of Christ and was saved. However, he never went through being baptized. Baptists believe baptisms do not save a person but are a testimony of the believer’s faith in Jesus and an act of obedience.

Last Sunday, the power was knocked out at Mt. Zion Baptist Church and youth pastor Grant Brister preached. In Brister’s concluding words, he invited anyone who had not been baptized or been saved to come down front and talk with him. Childress walked down the aisle. 

“I had already made up my mind that was what I needed to do. It is my last week here and I had never taken that next step,” Childress said. “I accepted Jesus before then but I never made it public. I wanted to do it.” 

He was baptized Sunday morning on June 19, 2022 and flew out to Colorado Springs on Tuesday. 

Childress is about to step into the unknown and perhaps the wild blue yonder with the Air Force. His faith gives him comfort in those next steps. 

“I’ve never encountered anything I couldn’t conquer with God,” Childress said. “I have to be faithful and trust He has it in his hands. It is very calming to me. It makes me not as nervous about what is next. I would say this is where I need to be.”