Operation Air Force brings USAFA cadets to Vandenberg

  • Published
  • By Cadet 1st Class Chelsea Tompkins
  • U.S. Air Force Academy
Seven United States Air Force Academy cadets visited Vandenberg May 31 through June 18 for a three-week internship program called Operation Air Force. The program is designed to give cadets insight into active duty and the career field in which they are interested.

For most cadets, this was the first time they experienced active duty other than at the Academy. Cadets learned about space and missiles through their jobs and tours around base. When asked what he expected active duty to be like, one cadet, Cadet 2nd Class Will McAngus replied, "I expected it to be exciting, interesting, a lot of classified stuff, and laid back compared to USAFA."

Some cadets expected active duty to be similar to the Academy. "I thought everything would be a lot busier like the Academy, but it is a refreshing change of pace," said Cadet 2nd Class Haley Staples.

Cadets worked with operations and support, including security forces, civil engineering, finance, acquisitions and the medical group.

Several facilitators volunteered to work with the cadets. First Lt. Kelsey Hayward, who graduated from USAFA in 2007, said, "The most rewarding thing about working with cadets is that everyone is still super motivated and ambitious. It is nice to see people open minded about their futures and make the best about their careers."

Capt. Herman Brandon volunteered to be a facilitator because, "it was a good opportunity to show the cadets what active duty is really about. I want to shed some light on what it is really like so they do not have a false perception when they graduate."

Cadets were able to see several Space Launch Complexes, control centers, classified buildings and training facilities. The cadets actively participated in physical training with many squadrons several times a week.

For fun, the cadets enjoyed visiting the local towns around the base and had dinner with two families whose sons went to the Academy.

The cadets had to meet certain requirements for OAF. They had to partake is mentoring sessions with senior non-commissioned officers, company grade officers and field grade officers. At the end of the three-week period cadets are expected to be motivated to work with operational units, acquainted with everyday tasks and the perceptions of Air Force officers and enlisted personnel, and be familiar with the Air Force "way of life." By meeting these objectives, cadets will hopefully be a more suited officer when they finally graduate and become commissioned as second lieutenants.