Hesperia residents Randy and Carol Sorenson recently returned from Ft. Rucker, Ala., where they watched as their daughter-in-law pinned new rank insignia onto her husband.

Steven Sorenson, who graduated from Sultana High School in 1999, was promoted to Warrant Officer in the United States Army as he pursues his dream of becoming a helicopter test pilot.

Sorenson first entered the Army in January 2000. He did his basic training at Ft. Jackson, S.C. and headed to Ft. Eustice, Va., where he learned to repair the Apache Longbow helicopter. He finished the Longbow course at the top of his class and was named distinguished honor graduate.

Since then, Sorenson has served 10 months in South Korea and four tours of duty in the Middle East: two in Afghanistan and two in Iraq. He achieved the rank of staff sergeant four months prior to his last deployment. Upon his last return home, he was again assigned to Ft. Eustice where he became an instructor for the very same Advanced Individual Training course on repairing the Apache from which he had himself graduated several years earlier.

Sorenson realized he would soon reach the point where he had served in the Army for 12 years and would no longer be eligible to apply for Warrant Officer Candidate School. He had always wanted to fly the Apache, rather than just repair them. To do so, Sorenson had to become an officer. However, many applicants are not accepted to WOCS on their first application, and at this point he only had time for one attempt.

Sorenson made it on his first attempt and soon he, his wife, Tricia, and their two children were on their way to Alabama. One factor that helped him along his way to WOCS was his score on the flight aptitude test. Sorenson's score was one of the highest ever achieved in the history of the test, according to the family.

Eighty-four soldiers started the course, but only 64 finished. Sorenson said the course was one of the most difficult, stressful things he had ever done. He had wanted to do something, not only for a better life for his family, but something that was challenging, that he felt he had really earned.

"You earn every new morning, every new day in that course," he said.

At the recent graduation ceremony, Sorenson was seated in front in the Commandant's Row because he finished in the top 10 percent of his class.

Sorenson will continue at Ft. Rucker for at least another year, his parents said. He is now enrolled in a five-week course on being an officer while serving in an aviation unit. From there he will move on to a Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape course that all pilots must pass. Then, at long last, he will begin flight training, which will take nearly a year.

Randy and Carol Sorenson are already making plans for their next trip to Alabama sometime in 2013 to see their son get his wings.