Many who know former Papermaker, Caden Koranda, understand that he carries a bucket of wonderful characteristics around with him that seems to rub off on everyone he interacts with.
Koranda has always been the type of person to go out of his way to assist others. After he graduated in June of 2020, he made the decision to enlist in the United States Air Force and serve the designated time for the country he loves.
“You have a lot of people from different places, whether that’s from some of the richest neighborhoods to some of the poorest slums in this country. But these people come for one common purpose because they want to serve their country,” Koranda said.
He added, “The benefits are great, and I get to meet a lot of new people, some are built for it, and some people I’ve seen drop out. You know, the thing is the military you sign a contract, it’s hard to get out.”
During the fall of 2020 before his deployment, Koranda’s family moved up to Battle Ground, Washington. However, for Koranda, Camas will always be his home and he reflected on what the community means to him.
“I think it’s great to have small-town pride. No matter where I travel, Camas will always be my home, no matter what. It’s a great town to be a part of, you know, the community is like a loving family. I consider everyone there family, it’s not just friends, it’s a family,” Koranda said.
He added, “For people who want to move to Camas, I highly recommend they do because it feels like home. It’s truly a great place to be, and I’m very grateful I was raised in Camas.”
At CHS, Koranda played basketball all four years for the Papermakers. With his six-foot-five frame, he clogged the paint and made it close to impossible for the opponents to slash through the lane without feeling his gargantuan presence. But for Koranda, the real takeaways were never the post hook from down low or delivering a monster block that made everyone in the crowd grimace. His greatest takeaways seem to be the relationship building and establishing the mental tools to tackle adversity whenever he is tasked with it. Koranda sees himself applying these skills on a daily basis with his new role in the Air Force.
“The athletic programs have really helped a lot. I played basketball close to my whole childhood. It was awesome getting to know everyone and I think that really helped get me ready for the military,” Koranda said. “You’re going to have to meet new people, no matter what, and you got to learn to work with each other. It’s not a by yourself kind of deal, it’s called working with each other, and that’s how stuff gets done and that’s what I really took away from a lot of the sports programs at Camas.”
Like anyone, there are things people tend to start missing when they are away from home for an exponential amount of time. For Koranda, he really seems to miss his favorite pastime and hobby, fishing.
“I probably have to say some fly fishing. It is just one of those things that serves as such a great escape,” he said.
Being in the military during a global pandemic, allows Koranda to share an interesting first-hand perspective on what it looks like to go into basic training during COVID-19.
“Before COVID happened, training would have been eight and a half weeks. But since COVID happened, I’m pretty sure they were in a rush to get us in and out, just to get us working the fields. It was only seven and a half weeks,” he said.
Just last month, Koranda wrapped up basic training in San Antonio, Texas, and was sent off to Pensacola, Florida where he will take on the duty of structural maintenance.
“I will be working on the fiberglass carbon structures you might see on either the F-35 Or B-2 bombers. I don’t know exactly know which plane I will be assigned to work on, but all of that kind of stuff will be in my wheelhouse,” Koranda said.
Koranda’s childhood was surrounded by Oregon Ducks Football, so when they made a Rose Bowl appearance in 2015, he was in attendance. Prior to the start of the game, they played the national anthem before teams went out onto the field. However, during this particular game, they had a B-2 bomber fly overhead after it was sung. For Koranda, it is sort of ironic and surreal that he gets the opportunity to work on these magnificent-looking “birds” that once flew over when he was a kid.
He acknowledged that the military is not for everyone. Koranda shared some words of wisdom for possible CHS students who are “on the fence” of deciding to join.
“I would tell them, just do it, if you really feel you want to serve your country. You can really do anything you want, the world’s your oyster. But, I do feel like the military is the best way to start because they pay for your education, and all that,” Koranda said. “Just never give up and stick to the process, trust the process. It’ll all be fine.”
He added, “Never give up because there’s one thing I have for sure learned reflecting on my high school career, I gave up a lot on a lot of things. I feel the military changes that mindset of giving up. I feel like if you join the military, you have a lot more confidence to do things.”