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Vandenberg welcomes Air Force JROTC cadets

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- One-hundred and fourteen 13- to 18-year-old Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets and chaperones from various Southern California high schools will be at Vandenberg from June 18 to 23 to complete the West Coast Cadet Officer Leadership School.

West Coast Cadet Officer Leadership School was created last year by retired Chief Master Sgt. Eric Martin, an Aerospace Science instructor for AFJROTC, and retired Col. George Sweetnum because California doesn't have one.

"California didn't have a cadet officer leadership school and our cadets had to travel to other states to attend theirs," Chief Martin said.

"We created this school so that our cadets could have a leadership school in the west coast but also so that we could teach them Air Force customs and courtesies, drill, Air Force rank structure and ultimately build better citizens for the United States," he said. "We try to stress the importance of education rather than recruiting but also show them the benefits of the United States uniformed services by promoting knowledge of the military."

Through various activities, the cadets will learn about Vandenberg as well as what it's like being an Airman.

Cadets will have uniform and dorm inspections, physical training, academic sessions and tours of base facilities. They will wrap-up the week with a pass-and-review parade on June 23 and June 30.

Not only are the cadets learning the basics of being in the military, they also have the opportunity to observe how Airmen live on an operational Air Force base.

"The visit to Vandenberg is important to these cadets because they don't get to see much of Air Force life in Southern California, as it is mostly Marines and Navy down there," said 2nd Lt. John Galer, point of contact for the AFJROTC visit to Vandenberg. "This gives them the chance to see an operational base during its day-to-day functions."

Besides Vandenberg's day-to-day functions, these cadets also are able to see that Airmen are real people, just like them, which gives them a sense that they can really succeed in the Air Force, Chief Martin said.

Showing cadets the base and what Airmen here do on a daily basis is important because it raises public knowledge on what Vandenberg does and because some of these cadets may one day be Airmen.

"This visit to Vandenberg is important to all Airmen because some of these cadets are the future of our Air Force," Lieutenant Galer said.

"Some will enlist, some will go ROTC and some will go to the Academy," he said. "Some may go Army, Navy or Marines, but they are all influenced by what they see here on this base."

The next group of 135 cadets and chaperones will be here from Riverside County, Calif. for the West Coast Cadet Officer Leadership School from June 25 to 30.