Manhattan teenager set to join Air Force months after life-threatening accident

Wyatt will be shipping out Tuesday, January 3 to begin basic training in San Antonio.
Published: Jan. 1, 2023 at 7:19 PM CST
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - Last year, Manhattan teenager Wyatt Henton was all set to enlist in the Air Force right after finishing his senior year of high school.

Until he suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident two days after he graduated.

“I was a passenger in my friend’s Jeep, and he turned left in front of this truck, kind of t-boned us and I woke up a couple days later in the hospital in Topeka,” Henton said.

He was airlifted to Stormont Vail in Topeka where spent the next week recovering from a brain bleed. Wyatt has no memory of the crash, but he does remember waking up to find his dream may be in jeopardy.

“I woke up everybody was telling me ‘so much for the Air Force, you’re not gonna be able to go now,’ well I didn’t really listen to them,” Henton said.

Staff Sergeant Jerry Nottnagel recruited Wyatt when he was still a junior in high school. He remembers finding out Wyatt was hospitalized.

“He just graduated high school and I’m like hey Wyatt, I know you just graduated. I sent him a text, I need your high school diploma. And he never responded that day, and I was like man that’s not like Wyatt,” said Sergeant Nottagel.

When Sergeant Nottnagel was finally able to talk to Wyatt six days after the accident, the first thing Wyatt asked him was if he could still join the Air Force.

“Day number six I ended up calling him, check on him to see if he was still doing okay or what was going on. And he answered and I could tell he was in a car and he was like ‘yeah sir I’ve just been released from the hospital, I’m still good to join the Air Force right? I was like Wyatt, settle down bro.”

Wyatt will be shipping out Tuesday, January 3 to begin basic training in San Antonio.