With about 50 friends and family looking on, Cadet Capt. Robert Z. Frisch of Warner Robins was presented the prestigious Amelia Earhart Award, joining a select group of 3 percent of Civil Air Patrol cadets nationwide who have qualified to receive it this year.
Frisch, a senior at Northside High School, then participated in a signing in ceremony, signifying his acceptance at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., joining yet another select group of students nationwide.
The ceremony took place at Central Fellowship Baptist Church in Macon. Frisch’s CAP squadron, GA 808, is at the church’s school.
“Oh wow, I’m ecstatic,” said mother Linda Frisch. “I was in the military for 10 years myself but I never thought he would go down the same path.”
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Judy Moore, former counselor and assistant principal at Northside, recalled that four years ago on the first day of school Frisch came up to her, saying he was going to go to the Air Force Academy and learn to fly, and that he knew he needed to keep his grades up. That he succeeded didn’t surprise her.
“He’s a well-rounded, highly intelligent and highly athletic kid,” Moore said. “He’s just a good, moral kid who’s not afraid to stand up for what he believes.”
Expanding on that was Conrad Nix, Northside football coach, for whom Frisch played offensive left guard.
“He was tenacious, and it was outstanding to see a young person set a long-term goal, stay really focused and pursue it,” Nix said. “It’s rewarding to see it come to fruition. He’s the kind of person you would expect to be an officer. He’s a real Northsider.”
Frisch played football for three years and was not shy about showing off the two state championship rings the school collected in 2006 and 2007. Incidentally, he’s maintained a 4.0 grade point average while at Northside.
The young man said “football occupied almost all of my time” at high school, yet he still managed to log in more than 400 hours of volunteer work at Trinity Woods Bible Camp in Macon.
“It’s a good way to devote your time helping others and develop your character,” Frisch said. “It leaves a good feeling in your heart.”
He joined the CAP in 2004 after a friend at Bible camp suggested he do so, he said. “I checked it out, loved it, and three weeks later I joined and have been in it ever since.” He first joined the Middle Georgia Composite Squadron before transferring to the Central Fellowship squadron because “it was more cadet-oriented.”
Frisch has diligently moved up the cadet ranks, holding positions such as element leader, flight sergeant, flight commander and second lieutenant. He is the school’s first-ever cadet commander.
“My first impression of him was that he was a very sharp cadet,” said CAP Capt. Jim Flaviani, aerospace education officer who mentored Frisch at the GA 808.
To attain the award, Frisch had to pass physical training and academic tests. He completed the requirements in February.
And by the way, Frisch was accepted at all military academies: West Point, Annapolis and Colorado Springs.
“That’s something I don’t think I’ve heard of before, or in a long time,” said Capt. Paul Beliveau of Group IV Georgia Wing, Civil Air Patrol.
So why did he choose the Air Force Academy?
For starters, both parents are Air Force veterans. But Frisch has other reasons.
“I’ve always loved the Air Force. They have the best planes, the best technology, they’re family-oriented and they treat people the best,” he said.
While at Colorado Springs, he plans to major in military strategic studies.
“I plan to study history, military history because the military makes the history,” he said.
“The sky’s the limit for this guy,” said Robin Hines, assistant superintendent of operations for Houston County schools and a former principal at Northside High. “He knows the importance of doing things the right way.”
He does have a fun side, too, said girlfriend Hannah Stevens of Houston County High, laughing as she related that Frisch invited her to be his girlfriend by wrapping up a gold invitation around a candy bar, similar to “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”
“What I see in him is the same determination I have — setting high goals for ourselves,” Stevens said. “But he does have a sense of humor and can be definitely goofy.”