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Future Air Force officers experience active duty life

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif --  Cadet Tech. Sgt. Lucy McMinn reviews a technical manual at teh 576th Flight Test Squadron. As a part of teh Operation Air Force program. Cadet McMinn is gaining vital experience and a better understanding of her future role as a leader in the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo / Cadet Master Sgt. Rebecca Rasweiler-Richter)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif -- Cadet Tech. Sgt. Lucy McMinn reviews a technical manual at teh 576th Flight Test Squadron. As a part of teh Operation Air Force program. Cadet McMinn is gaining vital experience and a better understanding of her future role as a leader in the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo / Cadet Master Sgt. Rebecca Rasweiler-Richter)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- While walking around base during the past few weeks, Vandenberg Airmen may have noticed some new faces with unusual ranks.

These Airmen are actually cadets from the U.S. Air Force Academy and are visiting Vandenberg from June 2 - 20 as part of a training program called Operation Air Force.

While at the Academy, cadets take college level courses and adhere to military customs while ultimately working toward a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force.

While attending Operation Air Force, cadets from both the Academy and Reserve Officer Training Corps detachments around the country experience life on Air Force bases shadowing company grade officer's in preparation for their commissioning into the active duty Air Force.

Throughout the program, cadets learn applicable lessons from airmen, NCO's and CGO's so that they will be better prepared to work with other Airmen once they join them in service.

During their visits, cadets enjoy base tours, career days, and mentoring sessions with both officer and enlisted leaders. Additionally, these cadets are put to work within units so they can experience day-to-day life in the Air Force.

The cadets are working in a variety of support and operational units on base, such as public affairs, medical, security forces and many others.

For example, two cadets worked with security forces as they prepared for a North Star training exercise.

"OP AF provides a good opportunity to see how the real Air Force functions outside an academic environment," says Cadet Tech. Sgt. Lucy McMinn, a visiting cadet who is temporarily assigned to the 576th Flight Test Squadron.

Almost 30 cadets are currently participating in the program here. After the cadets return to the Air Force Academy, another group will arrive here June 23.

This isn't only an opportunity for cadets, but it also gives CGO's a chance to help mold future leaders of the Air Force.

"For me, it's a really good mentorship opportunity for both the cadet and myself," said 1st Lt. Miclynn Crail, a program facilitator who sponsors a handful of cadets here on base. "It is good to impart knowledge that I wish I would have known when I was a cadet. It is best if the cadets can gain a better understanding of how they have to take charge of their own destiny."