Cadets receive learning experience at CAFB

Eighteen Operation Air Force Cadets spent three weeks at Columbus AFB learning about possible career opportunites the Air Force has to offer them. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Danielle Powell)

Eighteen Operation Air Force Cadets spent three weeks at Columbus AFB learning about possible career opportunites the Air Force has to offer them. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Danielle Powell)

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- With a sharp salute to our commander, 18 young cadets, from across the United States, gathered together on a bright Monday morning, for what seemed then to be the beginning of a long three weeks. 

Lieutenant Col. Daniel Simonsen, the commander of our group, remembers his first impression of the eager faces that stood before him. "As I met these young men and women, I'm encouraged by the future of our country" he says as he reminisced on that morning. We didn't know what the next few weeks had in store for us, but we did know to keep an open mind and a positive attitude. 

As the week began, we learned about many, if not all of the positions that the Air Force had to offer us. When we got the news that we would receive incentive flights our blood started to pump with adrenaline. 

Cadet Gerando Ayala Jr., of the University of Texas at San Antonio, rode on a T-6. "I enjoyed the experience. It was good to see what kind of things the pilots do on a daily basis. All in all it was great" said Cadet Ayala, a future pilot. 

Most of our cadets rode on the T-6, but some, like Cadet Michael Lawrence, rode on a T-37. "I really enjoyed sitting next to the pilot. It was easier for him to explain the functions of the plane and show me the different maneuvers" states Cadet Lawrence, who also has the dream of becoming an Air Force pilot. 

Throughout these three weeks I've learned so much about the Air Force and what it has to offer me. I've also learned that in being a future officer in the Air Force, I have to look to my NCOs because they are the backbone to the military. We had the pleasure to have lunch with three outstanding NCOs that work on this base. They provided us with the knowledge that we need in order to begin a good military career as officers. 

The last three weeks has been an amazing learning process, both about the Air Force and its services, but also about me. We had great fun, learned a lot and had terrific food.
Cadet Shavonne Collins of Howard University shares her thoughts on the trip. "Our living arrangements and food were great. If you haven't eaten at the Columbus Club yet you should definitely go! The T-6 flight was really fun! Overall it was a great experience and I just wish I could've shadowed more officers," states Collins with a bright smile on her face. Cadet Collins plans to pursue a career in the Medicine field as a doctor. 

Cadet Orion Kellogg of the Rochester Institute of Technology says "Ultimately OPS NCO has been a very valuable learning experience. By far the best part of it has been the T-6 Texan flights. Looking back, I only wished we could have shadowed some more pilots." Cadet Kellogg is working hard to achieve a pilot slot in hopes to become a future fighter pilot. 

After these three weeks at OPS NCO Professional Development Training, we have a better understanding of our nation's Air Force and we plan to become 18 of the brightest officers. Staff Sgt. Parnell, the NCO of our trip, leaves us with a few encouraging words: "It's all about respect." We have found this to be very true. If you don't respect yourself and those in charge of you, and below you, nobody will respect you. 

Thank you to Columbus AFB for inviting us in and taking care of us while we were here. We greatly appreciate everything that you did for us. To all of the Airmen, NCOs and officers who provided us with the knowledge of your jobs, thank you for taking the time out of your schedules to answer our questions and enlighten us about your role in the mission. And as the Air Force says "Cross into the Blue."