by Senior Airman Joseph A. Pagán Jr.
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
7/9/2015 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Have you ever saluted an individual who wasn't an officer?
Their shiny rank may be confusing and from a distance they appear to be
lieutenants, or you may have noticed that they were Air Force Academy
and Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets touring the base.
"The Operations Air Force Program is a summer program for the cadets
going into their sophomore and junior years [of college]," said Maj.
Matt Gross, 2nd Medical Squadron medical logistics flight commander.
"It's a two-week program and Barksdale is hosting three sessions."
The program is designed for cadets to experience what life is like in
the Air Force and let them see the different jobs they may like to do.
"They've gotten a lot of exposure here to include things like the
initial Barksdale's Best brief, they've had aircrew training, ejection
seat and parachute training," said Gross. "About half of them received
incentive flights to fly around the country."
When the cadets weren't visiting units in groups, they each shadowed career fields of their own interest.
"I really enjoyed the specific career shadow days," said Phillip
Resnick, Air Force Academy cadet. "This allowed me to have a better
understanding and appreciation for the specific Air Force Specialty
Codes, so at the end of my junior year when I'm putting down my job
preferences, I'll have a good sense of what I'm signing up for."
Cadet Jordan Boyce was able to see first-hand what enlisted Airmen his age are doing on base.
"I was at maintenance and there was a lieutenant who explained to us
that he has a 19 year-old Airman who's helping to fix engines on
planes," said Boyce.
Boyce said this was something he couldn't have done at the age of 19 and
now has a better understanding that everyone's job is important.
Not only has this experience given the cadets a feel for active duty,
but the Airmen on base received invaluable training as well.
"The cadets let us validate our training protocols through their
questions and feedbacks," said Gross. "Getting good feedback during
these visits helps to let others know that not everyone is from their
particular AFSC, so they need to slow down and explain things a little
No matter what AFSC these cadets enter, they are our future leaders and
one day soon, we'll find ourselves saluting them for commissioning as a