Just Announced: Operation Homefront Military Child of the Year® Award Recipients. Join us in sending these incredible young people your best wishes and congratulations.

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Caleb Hatch Hones Passions of STEM and Music

By Operation Homefront

April 1, 2024

Caleb Hatch Selected as National Guard 2024 Military Child of the Year®

Caleb Hatch, Operation Homefront’s 2024 Military Child of the Year® for the National Guard, is 19 years old and holds a love of science that has propelled him to already complete three years of college, first at community college then at University of Colorado Boulder (CU), as well as conduct a humanitarian project in Nepal. 

He is the son of National Guard Col. Shawn Hatch and Army veteran Marie Hatch. His mother served five years before honorably discharging in 2005 as a captain from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. His father has served since 1999. Caleb has an older sister and a younger brother and sister. 

Caleb’s resiliency has shown through the difficulties of 38 months of parent deployments along with his handling of medical issues – being diagnosed with diabetes and celiac disease. His interest in science has helped him cope with his health hardships.  

“I love science,” Caleb said. “I love constantly being in awe of how the world works, like how computers can teach me physics or how bioengineering has created the insulin that keeps me alive. I want to be part of making the world a better place through innovation.” 

Caleb has immersed himself in learning about science. He is active with the CU Boulder chapter of Engineers without Borders, serving in a variety of capacities. As part of the chapter, Caleb was on the Nepal team that implemented a spring source protection and water distribution system in a community in rural Nepal. Other science highlights include his contribution to the creation of a particle physics experiment proposal with an international team of high school students for the proton synchrotron at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research). Caleb was also awarded a full scholarship from the U.S. Department of State to study Mandarin in Taiwan for an academic year. 

Caleb balances his STEM pursuits with music. He plays the viola and has served as principal chair for a number of ensembles within the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony. He has taught multiple students the violin and viola. He also plays the ukulele and the tin whistle, including a whimsical rendition of Lord of the Rings scores. 

Academically, Caleb’s achievements include being a National Merit Finalist and receiving the National Rural and Small Town Recognition Award. With graduation in engineering physics on the horizon next year, he aspires to further his education in graduate school.  

Caleb’s advice to other military children is to “be the person that makes someone else’s day,” which is something his high school orchestra teacher told him in 10th grade. 

“It has stuck with me ever since,” he said. “Having this as my motto has been so vital to guiding me to where I am today, getting me through so many challenging and uncertain times. So, what I would say to other military children is to take advantage of every opportunity to be the person that makes someone else’s day; it’ll open opportunities that one may not even be able to imagine.” 

Operation Homefront’s Military Child of the Year program, now in its 16th year, recognizes outstanding teens in each branch of the armed forces for criteria that include their scholarship, volunteerism, leadership and extracurricular involvement while facing the challenges of military family life.  

Collectively, the seven 2024 recipients logged 3,667 volunteer hours in the 12 months before nominations. Altogether, they have experienced 37 permanent changes of station and lived through 247 months of deployments.   

The Military Child of the Year Award recipients will be recognized at a gala in Washington, D.C., in April, during which senior leaders of each branch of service will present the awards. Award recipients also will receive $10,000 each, a laptop computer, and other donated gifts. 

Service/Leadership Highlights 

  • Research for undergraduate thesis in clean-water technology, previous research at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Colorado State University, Fort Collins, affiliated with the National Science Foundation and the Army Educational Outreach Program 
  • CU Chapter Director of Special Projects for Engineers Without Borders, Nepal project secretary and education lead  
  • National Security Language Initiative Scholar 
  • Air/Soil Quality InQuiry Program, which sends university students to rural areas to teach research projects with low-cost instruments to measure air and soil quality 
  • Founded a STEM education organization at high school 
  • Beyond Type One Diabetes Scholar, Disney Dreamer Class of 2022, GO Scholar 
  • Finalist in the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) Beamline for Schools physics competition for high school students  
  • Music outreach as a volunteer viola instructor and regional honor orchestra viola principal chair; Colorado All State Orchestra 

Favorite Quote: 

“Pessimism is a luxury we simply cannot afford.” – Kumi Naidoo  

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