RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
When Col. Travis Willis, the former Commander of the 479th Flying Training Group - the 12th Flying Training Wing's geographically separated unit in Pensacola, Fla., learned of a new flight academy at a local middle school earlier this year, he immediately began to
brainstorm ways to get his unit involved.
With plenty of lieutenants waiting to start their flight training, he recognized their ability to provide a needed service to the community, exposing the students at Warrington Middle School to opportunities in the U.S. Air Force.
After a short visit with the school principal, Mrs. Sandra Rush, it was decided some of the 479th FTG's lieutenants would mentor WMS students in math, science and reading.
The program began in early March and the lieutenants have logged more than 350 hours volunteering at the school so far.
"It has been an incredibly unique and rewarding experience," said 2nd Lt. Jason Domanowski, one of the volunteers. "My bachelor's [degree] was in aeronautical science so it felt like a good fit when I was placed in the school's flight academy group. The students I work with were all deeply interested in what I had done to have a successful life and I was pleased to pass on some of my experience and knowledge to help them along."
Another volunteer agreed.
"It's been an incredibly rewarding experience," said 2nd Lt. Benjamin Benson. "I got my bachelor's degree in mathematics, and when I learned WMS needed tutors for the flight academy, I saw an opportunity I could not pass up to use my education to benefit the community."
Though Colonel Willis recently relinquished command of the group to Lt. Col. Neil Allen, the partnership between the 479th FTG and the school continues.