(Via Ho’okele News)
Maj. Joe Blubaugh
15th Wing Public Affairs
It’s not very often that you get a chance to ‘”test drive” a potential career before you commit to it, but that is exactly the case for six Air Force Academy cadets who spent just more than two weeks at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
The cadets are members of the class of 2016, nearly 850 juniors getting ready to start their third year at the academy. It is a graduation requirement for each member of the class to perform three weeks of Operation Air Force in the weeks leading into the fall semester. JBPHH is one of dozens of bases around the world where cadets have been assigned for the three-week program.
The Ops Air Force program provides cadets with exposure to Air Force operations while allowing them to explore the various career fields available to them once they have commissioned into the Air Force.
Cadet 2nd Class Darren Sency, one of the six cadets assigned to JBPHH, said he has been impressed with the Airmen he has had the opportunity to meet during his stay.
“I am amazed to see how knowledgeable and skilled people are at their job,” said Sency. “It is refreshing to see such a high level of expertise that is waiting for us when we join the Air Force.”
Another benefit of the program for the cadets is it gives them one last chance to decide if military life is still a good fit for their career aspirations. Cadets are not required to fully commit to the Air Force until the fall of their junior year. Until that time, the cadets can walk away from the Air Force with no service commitment.
Capt. Andrew McPherson, assistant public works officer for the 647th Civil Engineering Squadron, was one of two 15th Wing coordinators charged with building the schedule for the cadets’ visit. He said they focused the schedule on the company grade officer level while allowing for mentoring with senior non-commissioned officers and field grade officers.
“We tried to give them a good split between the operational side and the support side of Air Force operations,” McPherson said.
Cadet 2nd Class Connor Hagan said his visit has been very rewarding and said he was most impressed with seeing Airmen operate on a day-to-day basis and how similar actual operations are to the training he has received at the academy.
“It has been extremely rewarding to see how similar our training is to what is really happening at the operational level,” said Hagan. “It’s really not that much different than what we are being taught at the academy.”