There’s a good read on The (Colorado Springs) Gazette website about Air Force linebacker Patrick Hennessey, who’s back playing for the Falcons this year after being granted a ninth semester at the academy. The story sheds light on a unique factor that differentiates service academies and regular colleges: Nobody wants to stay in school any longer than possible, and a special pride is taken in being part of a specific year’s graduating class.
Because Hennessey underwent multiple shoulder surgeries and missed academic time, he’s still at the academy under the “Cadet Turnback Program.” He’s allowed to play football this season, and he’ll be graduating in December.
But the opportunity to play is about the only positive that Hennessey sees in the situation. Because of his hardships, he missed graduating with his class. His peers are commissioned and are out in the force making money and beginning their careers, while he’s still a cadet.
Hennessey didn’t mince words desrcibing what it felt like to attend commencement in May as a spectator.
“That was probably the most depressing day of my entire life,” Hennessey said.