U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY — Saturday's graduation ceremony at the U.S. Air Force Academy will go down as one unlike any other. With COVID-19, the Academy opted for a virtual graduation ceremony.
The only people present in person were the 967 graduating cadets, Air Force Academy personnel, and dignitaries such as Vice President Mike Pence- this year's commencement speaker.
The Smith family in Pueblo was among those families watching their son graduate from home. Complete with matching shirts, Noah Wallace Smith's family gathered at home with his siblings and grandparents to watch the monumental occasion.
"It wasn't like we expected obviously," said Noah Wallace Smith's mother, Lesia, "we were just incredibly proud during this entire thing."
The Smith family says they couldn't spot their graduate in the sea of 967 cadets, but it was still special to have a graduation- something they recognize many families may not get this year.
"We get more than what they get so we have to remember how blessed we are," said Lesia Smith.
Smith, a South High School Graduate, plans to attend medical school in August at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda Maryland. Pursuing a career in medicine is something that runs in the family, several of his family members work in nursing and other health fields.
"He's the kind of kid that never took the easy road, he always wanted to excel," said his Father Doug.
His family adding his career path is something in his nature, "he's always wanting to help people," said Doug Smith.
Smith wanted to go to the Academy from a very young age. "I can't remember how young, we were always supportive but we told him "you realize how hard that's going to be" said Doug Smith.
"We keep telling him, one of these days you're going to fail," his father said, sending the family into laughter.
Smith was homeschooled up until high school, and during his time at the Academy he stayed very busy participating in the triathlon group and sang lead with the a capella group "In the Stairwell".
The new second-lieutenant will reunite with his family this weekend. His family says his plans to go to medical school may be delayed if he's called by the National Guard to help during the pandemic.
The reunion is something the Smith family can't wait for.
"Just giving him a big congratulations I don't know how I'm not going to see him and cry," said his sister, Victoria.