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ROTC cadets spend 3 weeks in base units

By James Coburn | 37th Training Wing Public Affairs | Nov. 20, 2006

Lackland Air Force Base, Texas — ROTC Cadet 4th Class Josiah Donaldson, visiting the base during his first summer recess from Virginia Tech, said he loves Lackland and learned that security forces would be an interesting career field.

Cadet Donaldson is among more than 100 ROTC cadets from universities across the nation spending three weeks at Lackland this summer as part of Operation Air Force to give them realistic experiences in the operational Air Force. He and two other cadets were working on a project at the 37th Training Wing Office of History and Research to collect approximately 119,000 photographs of flights that graduated from Air Force Basic Military Training since 1947.

Tech. Sgt. Tracy English, a historian, said the cadets have been scanning the flight photos into a database and putting them on Lackland's public Web site at www.lackland.af.mil/info/flightphoto.asp. He said more than 5,200 flight photos have been sent in and scanned over the past two years.

Before starting work on the research project July 6, the three cadets watched Airmen and civilians in action at other base units after arriving at Lackland June 25 with 31 other cadets.

Cadet Donaldson, a rising sophomore like the other two cadets, said his Lackland visit began by shadowing a security forces NCO who worked with electronic security systems. "So I got to help with security cameras, laser equipment and 'Giant Voice' loudspeaker tests" of a trailer-mounted, deployable system that a contractor is trying to sell to the Air Force. He also watched a BMT graduation while helping provide security for the event.

"I got to play with some very cool equipment, more than almost anybody else did, I'm sure," Cadet Donaldson said. "I really enjoyed meeting everybody in security forces, and being around them and watching what they do and seeing how they all work together. ... I would consider security forces as a career option now."

As to Lackland, "I love it," he said, lauding the dining facility, housing for cadets at the Gateway Inn and the recreational facilities on base.

Cadet 4th Class Sophia Mellein, from Arizona State University, observed security forces personnel working as prison guards at the correctional facility on Lackland Training Annex. "It was very interesting," she said, but "very stressful" as the guards tried to help the inmates be successful.

She doesn't see security forces as an option now, she said. "I want to do something like public affairs, something in the journalism angle," she said.

Cadet Mellein said she admires Lackland's training environment, "producing the Air Force's next leaders, so I really appreciate that." She added: "I like how everyone shares, almost like a family. You go to dining hall, everyone sits together, laughing and talking. You have so much in common here on base."

Cadet 4th Class Graeme Ross, from the Colorado School of Mines, said he began his Ops AF visit working with the 37th Engineer Squadron "Dirt Boys." "I learned about laying asphalt, pouring concrete. We moved dirt from one side of the base to the other."

He found it interesting that a lot of civilian employees worked in the Horizontal Shop. "It was a good experience to be aware of the civilian sector of the base and how it operates."

Cadet Ross also was impressed with the housing that he said is like a hotel, and the leisure activities available, mentioning the bowling center, dance club and golf course.
Cadet Ross said he isn't sure whether he wants to be a pilot or do something else. That's why he relishes the Ops AF program, he said, "to see what it's like on active duty - kind of get a feel for what I want to do in the Air Force before I'm commissioned."