UNDISCLOSED LOCATION - With a little more than two years under
their belts at the United States Air Force Academy, 16 cadets now
find themselves in a different setting than the mountains of
Colorado – the desert of Southwest Asia.
officers are embarking on an opportunity of a lifetime by
participating in the deployed operations program offered by USAFA.
This program allows cadets to visit a secure deployed location such
as the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, to gain insight on the Air
Force way of life.
Cadets from the United States Air Force Academy meet with Command Chief Master Sgt. Jose Barraza for a mentoring session, July 7, 2014. Cadets participate in the deployed operations program which allows them to shadow active duty Airmen working in the operational Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Bowcock)
The cadets, who come from a wide range of diverse
backgrounds and who are looking into multiple career options
in the future, have an opportunity to shadow multiple
organizations on the base to see how they operate on a daily
basis. Job shadowing exposes them to many of the careers
they could be tasked with in their future. It also allows
them to see where Airmen under their purview will be working
so they have a better understanding of each career field.
“I hope to gain an actual idea of what it is like to
work in the operational Air Force as a member of a team,”
said Cadet 2nd Class Jacob Pond. “I hope to appreciate more
the role of the enlisted core and the right kind of
leadership to be effective in the future.”
future leaders spend roughly four weeks in the deployed
environment integrating daily with different units across
The Rock. Each office takes six to eight cadets for a few
days and shows them the best aspects of their career fields.
They have experienced a wide variety of opportunities to
induce combatives class with Check Six, integrating with
security forces, building tents with civil engineers, and
even shooting photos with public affairs.
experience has been very eye opening. I'm learning so much
more than I ever expected to,” said Pond, a Lyons, Nebraska
native. “The people here have been so supportive and helpful
and I am really enjoying my time here.”
Marauders of The Rock, having the cadets visit is an
opportunity to shape the future of the Air Force and offer
advice as a mentors to these future leaders.
Chief Master Sgt. Jose Barraza took the chance to sit down
personally with four of the cadets to offer his thoughts on
leadership, the enlisted force, and how to make an impact as
“During mentorship, we often talk about
character, compliance, and compassion, but how we lead
others inspires the kind of belief needed to change lives,”
said Barraza. “For me, it's really about creating a ripple
effect, because while I may motivate these young cadets now,
I am passionate about finding ways for them to stay
motivated in the future, when tough situations are present
and decisions must be made.”
As these cadets prepare
to leave the desert and head back to the Academy where they
will soon embark on their commitment decision, they look
forward to what the Air Force has to offer.
forward to the people I will get to work with and the
opportunity to lead,” said Forrest Schaffer, a cadet with
hopes of one day becoming a fighter pilot or air liaison
officer. “I also look forward to having the opportunity to
do cool things associated with any job I'm given.”
This small group will get to share the details of their
journey with their classmates and new cadets once they
return to Colorado.
“I want to share with the other
cadets what I've learned here,” said Pond who hopes to
become a civil engineer upon graduation. “Also, I want to
set realistic expectations for the incoming freshmen that we
will have to train so they understand what the operational
Air Force is all about.”
By U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Holli Nelson
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