VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
As part of a two-week summer program, cadets from the United States Air Force Academy recently visited Vandenberg, July 19 through Aug. 2.
The Ops Air Force program exposes cadets to real world Air Force operations before they personally select the profession of their choice.
“We commit to our respective career field right before our junior year,” said Cadet Prayant Hanjra, USAF Academy Class of 2018. “So before our junior year begins, the Academy sends all the cadets to an operational base for two weeks so we can see what the operational Air Force is like.”
During their stay, the cadets visited various units on base and were educated on the mission of the 30th Space Wing.
“We’ve been everywhere from the Civil Engineer Squadron to the airfield with airfield management, just trying to check out what other career fields are out there for us,” said Cadet Tori Gilster, USAF Academy Class of 2018. “At the Academy we primarily focus on academics, so this whole experience was very eye-opening.”
For some cadets, their job choice was hereditary, although the prospect of other career opportunities were intriguing.
“I would really like to go to med school, I’m looking to become a physician,” said Cadet Michael Hurst, USAF Academy Class of 2018. “My dad was a doctor in the Navy and I’d really love to follow in his footsteps. I was always interested in the medical field as a kid. However, if that doesn’t pan out, I’m really interested in becoming a Public Affairs officer. I’ve always enjoyed film and photography and also working with the general public.”
With much obscurity concerning the specifics of day-to-day active duty life, the Ops Air Force program has been crucial for the cadets.
“The program is essential because it grants the cadets the opportunity to connect with active duty officers, ask questions about all the different career fields, and get a feel for what active duty may look like,” said 2nd Lt. William Collette, 30th SW Public Affairs Officer. “This experience can help them pick a job they are more passionate about, or even decide whether or not the Air Force is for them at an early stage.”
For the cadets, the experience of being a member of Team V for two weeks proved to be more valuable than any simulation could’ve been.
“At the Academy we really try to emulate the structure of the operational Air Force, but at the end of the day there’s nothing like the real thing,” said Hurst. “Having this opportunity allowed us a broader scope of what it’s like on a day-to-day basis.”