White Hall Progress logo

Student has passion for aviation


Orion Vick II and his parents are the type of family that teachers love to see enter a classroom.

The White Hall High School senior is focused and his parents are involved — very involved.

Orion admits to a passion for aviation and had a goal of becoming a fighter pilot. His mother, Lilian, pointed out that flying fighter jets is “very dangerous.” She voiced support for her son becoming a doctor, describing the medical field as a “worthy way to live your life.”

His father, Orion Vick Jr., recommended a compromise: A flight surgeon. The recipient of the White Hall Chamber of Commerce’s annual Bridges-Socia Memorial Award for an outstanding youth liked the suggestion because flight surgeons get to fly.

He said he first considered the Navy because he liked the Grumman F-14 Tomcat supersonic fighter aircraft. However, he changed alliances after the Tomcat was retired from the active Navy fleet in 2006.

He admits to talking with his father “for hours” about flying. “You can say I have a passion for planes,” he acknowledged.

His father, an ordinance disposal technician for Northrop Grumman Corp. at Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada, formerly worked in the same field for a contractor at the Pine Bluff Arsenal after retiring from the Air Force.

Orion, who was born near Las Vegas, remembers while in day care watching the Air Force’s Thunderbirds air demonstration squadron practice at Nellis Air Force base near Las Vegas.

Now Orion, a White Hall resident for eight years, is optimistic he will receive an appointment to the Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs.

“His vision and goals in life are amazing,” wrote one person who nominated Orion for the Bridges-Socia Award. Not taking any chances, he has already passed the academy’s physical qualifications test.

Two percent of the academy graduates can attend the medical school “of your choice.” Harvard and Duke head his short list.

“You can fly and go to medical school and get paid for it,” he explained during a recent interview.

The nomination for the Bridges-Socia Award listed his honors:

■ Eagle Scout in August 2011, based in part on more than 2,000 hours volunteering for the Red Cross; Youth Recognition honors from the Red Cross in 2008, 2009, 2010 and last year; Military Officers Association of America award scholastic and military excellence;

■ Tennis and soccer player at White Hall High School; Student Council president at WHHS; battalion commander for the school’s Junior ROTC program; Superior Cadet award for scholastic and military excellence given to a single cadet in a JROTC program;

■ CPR/AED (automated external defibrillator) and first aid with the Red Cross; national youth leadership training instructor with the Boy Scouts; and Leave No Trace environmental program instructor for the Boy Scouts.

The “authors” of the Bridges-Socia Award nomination included several observations about Orion Vick: “He is an outstanding person to work with, completely dedicated to tasks that are assigned to him. He is trustworthy as we don’t allow just anyone to operate our emergency response vehicles. … Whenever he is around he is around the office you will never find him without a smile and the people that work with and around him enjoy his company.”

Orion may be just 17, but “for the past year has been writing grants for the American Red Cross to obtain various items that are required for our day to day operation,” it was noted.

Lilian Vick, a native of Peru, is proud of her son and daughter. “He loves to be challenged,” she said with a smile.

Her daughter, Elsa Sarmiento, is a physician in Lima, Peru.

Donna Booth-Johnson, manager of the Pine Bluff Red Cross office and state volunteer manager, said Orion is one of the top two volunteers she has worked with in the past 25 years.

“He is really well rounded and has his sights set on what he wants to do,” she said of the young volunteer, who spent a major portion of his spring break working at Booth-Johnson’s office. “A number have motivation, but not the drive and focus of Orion.”