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Cadets roll into Columbus

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Last week, Capt. Jeremiah McClendon, 41st Flying Training Squadron, published an article in the Silver Wings about Columbus AFB's selection as one of three locations for the Operation Air Force program this summer. This program is one of three for Air Force cadets that will be conducted at CAFB over the next few months. These programs include OpsAF, AFROTC Aerospace 100 Special Training, or ASSIST, and Jet Orientation, or JetO.
Along with Altus, Keesler, McGuire and Vandenberg, CAFB was selected to host the ASSIST program. Currently underway at CAFB, ASSIST is an annual program in which a small group of first year cadets are led by AFROTC instructor escorts exposing them to active duty bases and the operations involved at these installations. There are five sessions at each base over the course of the summer with the first one going on this week.
Capt. Eric Brinkman and Lt. Wesley Spurlock, both of the 48th Flying Training Squadron, created the schedule for these visiting cadets and have prepared several career and motivational briefings for these cadets. "The purpose behind everything is to inspire and prepare the cadets for their Air Force futures in a positive and influential way," said Capt Brinkman.
Cadets come from ROTC units as far away as the University of Miami to Rochester Institute of Technology to California State University at Sacremento.
The ASSIST cadets have just finished their freshmen year of college and are "therefore still quite new to the operational AF and are very impressionable,"said Capt. Brinkman. While here, the cadets will be receiving T-1 incentive flights.
Capt. Aubrey Sterling, 41st FTS and Capt.Greg Barnes, 37th Flying Training Wing, are responsible for the JetO program CAFB. JetO is an incentive flight program that allows cadets to get rides in Air Force aircraft. Capt. Sterling said the main goal is for "recruiting, retention and to provide an opportunity to folks that would not otherwise get a chance." Before the program was done while cadets participating in Field Training between their sophomore and junior year of college. Now, the program is conducted between the freshman and sophomore years.
Although the three programs are geared differently for cadets of varying levels of experience, they give the cadets a deeper understanding of real operations. As Capt. Brinkman stated, "I am confident this entire experience will aid in their career-making decisions when the time presents itself."