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National Guard Child of Year says father is role model

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (April 14, 2016) -- Trip Landon, 17, of Ellensburg, Washington, was recognized as the National Guard's 2016 "Military Child of the Year," during an April 14 ceremony here.

Trip's father, Capt. John L. Landon II, serves as a field artillery captain with the 66th Theater Aviation Command, part of the Washington National Guard. As a civilian, he is the assistant transportation director for the Ellensburg School District.

As the son of a Soldier, Trip has seen his dad deploy twice as a Guardsman: once to the Mexican border, and once to Iraq -- for a whole year. During that time, Trip said, he was the man of the house.

Trip was there to help his mother and a younger brother. His older brother, 22, is already in college.

"I think it has helped me appreciate exactly how much of a sacrifice [Soldier make,]" he said.

Military children are strong, resilient and equipped to adapt to changes such as deployments, an Army spokesman said.

A homeschooler, Trip carries a 3.9 grade point average, and is a member of the National Honor Society and hopes to go into prosthetic engineering when he finishes his high school education.

Between his studies, he manages to squeeze in a dizzying array of activities. He's a golfer, for instance, where he's earned Academic Athlete honors and was voted "Most Inspirational Player."

As a member of the Ellensburg High School Orchestra, Trip plays both violin and piano. "It's something I started at a late age, compared to some other musically-talented kids," he said. "But I've grown to really like the music I've learned and that I can play."

He's has an active interest in theatrical productions and film-making as well, along with extensive involvement in scouting.

Trip achieved the level of Eagle Scout at an early age, before he turned 15 years old. As part of that effort, he led both adults and other teens in the planning and construction of an archery range backstop. Earlier he served in leadership roles within the Cub Scouts, and as a leader at scouting day camps and overnight camps as well.

Trip said he's learned a lot about leadership -- but what it really boils down to is selflessness, he said.

"I think the best traits of a leader are work ethic, self-awareness: you know what your weaknesses and strengths are; and also loyalty to your subordinates: you'll be with them all the way," he said. "You always admit when you're wrong and work hard all the way through."

What's he's learned as a leader in scouting, as well as in other areas of his life, he said, will serve him as an adult.

"I think being a leader early on in my life has helped me, so that when I am in a leadership role that is big, I will be ready and prepared and not caught off guard about what to do," he said.

How does a 17-year-old manage to do so much and still keep his GPA so high?

"Organization," Trip said. "You have to know how to be organized, how to prioritize your schedule. A lot of times my mom has been the backbone of that. She's taught me so much about scheduling and organizing -- she's helped me a lot there."

While most of Trip's time is occupied with his education, scouting, sports and the arts -- he finds time always to take care of the one thing he says he prioritizes above everything he does in his life: the faith he shares with his family.

"I believe that faith is my center priority for all the activities I do, and I believe that's what drives me on to do those other activities," he said. "It's the center and power that gives me the energy."

It's his parents, he said, that drive him toward that faith. "I go with them to church every week -- willingly," he says.

"They are role models in so many ways," Trip said about his parents. "...They've taught me to help others, and to share the gospel with everyone I meet."

Trip and his family arrived early in Washington, D.C., in advance of the Military Child of the Year Awards. "I'm very humbled and excited at the same time," he said of the award.

While in town, he said, he's already visited the Iwo Jima Memorial and wants also to see the Jefferson Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, and the Lincoln Memorial -- the one he seems the most excited about. "I've heard so much about it, and seen it on TV. So I really would like to see that."