Scobey grads soar high at academies

3 members of class of 2006 graduate from military schools
2010-06-07T22:33:00Z Scobey grads soar high at academiesED KEMMICK Of The Gazette Staff The Billings Gazette
June 07, 2010 10:33 pm  • 

The Scobey High class of 2006 “was kind of known as the class of over-achievers,” Carrie Wilson says.

Last month, two of those over-achievers graduated from highly competitive U.S. military academies — her son, Robert Wilson, from West Point, and David Leibrand from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Another member of the class has been accepted into a graduate program at Duke University, another is in ROTC at the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks, and still another is in pharmacy school.

Class of 20

Not bad for a graduating class of 20. Scobey, population about 900, is in the northeast corner of the state, in Daniels County.

Robert Wilson, known by his middle name, Tell, and David Leibrand are both 22 and have known each other almost all their lives. Wilson said nearly the entire class of 2006 had been going to school together since kindergarten.

The two men played football and ran track together in high school and remain friends.

Leibrand said he started thinking about attending an academy when he was a freshman in high school, and eventually he received a congressional recommendation from Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont. He also wanted to be a skydiver since he was a little kid.

At the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., he certainly achieved that goal. He was among 25 cadets — out of 250 applicants — chosen to join the Wings of Blue, the academy’s parachute demonstration team.

“He has so loved it, just so loved it,” said his mother, Karla Leibrand of Scobey.

His father, Curtis Leibrand, lives in Billings.

Once he joined the Wings of Blue, Leibrand set a goal of making 500 jumps, which would qualify him for a professional license and made him eligible to jump into football stadiums and other restricted venues.

Getting to his goal

To reach that goal, he often drove out to the airfield and jumped before breakfast, during his lunch hour or between classes. His record was 16 jumps in one day.

“I had to quit at 2 p.m.,” he said. “I was too tired.”

For his 21st birthday, with some help from his parents, he bought a $3,200 parachute and gear so he could make additional jumps on his own time. He has now made 585 jumps, and in early January he and three other members of the Wings of Blue jumped into the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., before the start of the BCS national championship game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Texas Longhorns.

Leibrand was chosen to carry the BCS championship flag and landed to the cheers of 93,000 fans.

Except for a three-week trip to Europe with some friends, he plans to spend most of his 60-day break in Scobey. After that, he’ll be attending Air Force flight school in Wichita Falls, Texas.

Carrie Wilson said her son has talked about joining the Army since he was a little boy, and then got serious about it in high school. For his high school research paper, he wrote about the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. His congressional recommendation came from Rep. Denny Rehberg, R-Mont.

Tell’s mother said his long involvement in 4-H probably helped him get into West Point because the Army puts a lot of emphasis on leadership skills. In high school, he won a state leadership award from 4-H.

He plans to spend his break working on the family ranch. In July he goes to Fort Knox, Ky., for armor officer basic training. His unit is scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan early next year.

“It’ll be a good challenge for me,” he said. “You want to get the chance to exercise the skills and the leadership lessons” learned at West Point.

He said the best part of his West Point experience was meeting cadets from all over the country and, through exchange programs, from other countries as well.

“I’ve got a lot of real good, real close friends,” he said.

The one thing he missed while he was at West Point was the wide-open spaces of Montana, he said. Carrie Wilson said there’s a lot to cherish about a place like Scobey.

People in Billings might think of it as the end of the earth, she said, but in Scobey everyone takes care of everyone else.

Her youngest son, Chance, was supposed to graduate from high school on Saturday, May 22, the same day Tell was to graduate from West Point.

Carrie and her husband, DuWayne, really wanted to take Chance and their oldest son, Tyrel, to Tell’s graduation because neither of them had been to West Point.

To accommodate them, Scobey High School moved graduation to May 23.

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