When a P8 Poseidon touches down at the upcoming Tribute to Aviation, it will hold special meaning for two Cedaredge veterans, as well as members of the Civil Air Patrol Montrose Squadron.

The plane is the type Lt. JG Michael Barnosky is training to fly in the Navy, and if his parents’ hopes are realized, he could be on board.

Barnosky, son of veterans Jim and Sue Barnosky, is a former standout swimmer for Delta County and Montrose teams, who went on to graduate the U.S. Air Force Academy and become cross-commissioned in the Navy.

“It would be especially nice for him to come to Montrose, because he has a lot of connection with the Montrose airport,” said Jim Barnosky, explaining Michael was also a CAP cadet for the Montrose Squadron. (The Civil Air Patrol is an auxiliary arm of the U.S. Air Force.) “To be able to come back to that would be really nice.”

As his parents and former squad members wait to see whether Michael Barnosky’s training schedule will allow him to be part of the Tribute to Aviation, they also shared how the former area resident forged his path to success: through family history and a passion for swimming.

In addition to being steeped in military culture growing up, Michael also was a talented swimmer who first swam with the Delta Barracudas. Once he was in high school, though, his school district ceased the swim club, so Barnosky began swimming for the Montrose Marlins, his father said.

At the same time, he was doing well academically, as well as progressing through the ranks of the local Civil Air Patrol squadron.

His athletic skill caught the attention of coaches at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Jim Barnosky said.

“That kind of dovetailed with what he wanted. He wanted to go to a service academy and he wanted to fly. We’re kind of an aviation family,” said the elder Barnosky, who is a retired pilot and naval officer. Sue Barnosky also is a pilot and naval officer.

Michael was recruited to the Air Force Academy to swim, as well as to become a commissioned officer.

“I don’t want to overstate it, but by the time he was a senior, in Air Force publications, it states he produced one of the greatest records ever by an Air Force swimmer,” his father said.

Michael Barnosky was recognized as the Most Valuable Athlete at the academy in 2016, having placed third in the nation in the breaststroke, according to John Cossick of the Montrose CAP squadron.

“Obviously, we are very proud of Michael’s superlative accomplishments and continued success,” Cossick said.

Barnosky graduated the academy with a degree in assisted engineering.

Upon graduation, Barnosky successfully applied for cross-commission in the Navy, with letters of support from Cossick and the CAP’s Ray Ross. Both men, like Barnosky’s parents, are former naval officers.

Barnosky also got a little push from home.

“His mother and I are both former Navy officers and we had ‘propagandized’ him toward the Navy,” his father said. “As a result, he applied to cross-commission into the Navy.”

But the elder Barnosky also credits the Montrose CAP.

“He participated fully and strongly in the Montrose Civil Air Patrol squadron. That was kind of instrumental in his formative years to get him interested in the service academies and the military,” Jim Barnosky said.

Ross, Cossick and Ron Forsberg were senior leaders who helped inspire Michael, Jim added.

“All of those senior members of the CAP kind of mentored him and were instrumental in him being able to go on and succeed in the Air Force, both in the swimming/academic and military part of it,” he said.

Michael Barnosky has completed naval aviator training and now is undergoing advanced training in Jacksonville, Florida. Once he completes his student syllabus, he anticipates assignment at Whidbey Island, Washington State. He will also soon marry an Air Force classmate who was on the swim team, coincidentally replicating how his own parents met in the service.

Now, there’s the possibility Barnosky can come full circle, returning home as part of a Navy crew for the Tribute to Aviation. One of his instructors is expected among the aviators who are flying in military aircraft to Montrose for the show in September — news Jim Barnosky said excited his son.

“It turns out, a couple weeks ago, one of his instructors (told him) ‘I’m going to take a P8 to Montrose in September,’” he said. Although the Barnoskys don’t yet know whether Michael’s course of study will allow him to be part of that team, Jim said they are hopeful.

“It’s been very gratifying for us. Sue and I met in the Navy. For both of us, it was very gratifying to see him basically do the same things that we did at the corresponding age,” he said.

“He went to the exact training I went through, in the same classrooms. We’re very proud of him.

“But most gratifying is he’s always wanted to do that and the most gratifying thing is to see him doing what he’s worked so hard to do since he was a little kid.”

The Montrose Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol meets at 7 p.m. Thursdays at the Montrose Armory, 12147 63.90 Road, according to online information.

The Tribute to Aviation is Sept. 15 and 16 at Montrose Regional Airport. The event is free. See more at tributetoaviation.com.

Katharhynn Heidelberg is an award-winning journalist and the senior writer for the Montrose Daily Press. Follow her on Twitter @kathMDP.

The original version of this article can be seen online here.