Experience helps Airmen mentor academy cadets

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Eric Burks
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The Operation Air Force program not only opens up a whole new world to Air Force Academy cadets, but also gives the Airmen in charge of overseeing visiting cadets a chance to mentor the next generation of Airmen.

Nineteen academy cadets visited McChord from June 1 - 21 during the first phase of the career-broadening program for cadets at the Air Force Academy and Reserve Officer Training Corps.

Capt. Ian Ostermiller, 10th Airlift Squadron, has participated in the program for the last two years.

"For the 10th, we tried to rotate the cadets through as many positions as possible to give them a perspective on a lot of things," he said. "Hopefully they learned a little about operations and scheduling, personnel, tactics and employment."

Captain Ostermiller, a 2003 academy graduate, served this year as the 10th AS facilitator and troop commander during a C-17 Globemaster III mission from here to Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, and back. In 2007, he was the 62nd Operations Group officer in charge, and took care of anything the cadets did with the OG, including planning and flying a C-17 to Colorado Springs, Colo., to pick up the cadets. As a cadet, he participated in a specialized version of the program in the summer before his junior year and shadowed Military Training Instructors at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

"What is different is that they have the opportunity each summer now," said Captain Ostermiller. "I think the value in repeated exposure is obvious from the perspective of repetition in training, but more precisely, it allows the cadets to go into greater depth regarding the roles of the various members in the Air Force."

The squadron's goal was to expose cadets to the full range so that they would have not only the hands-on environment in which to learn, but also to give them a good perspective of the breadth of what a mobility squadron does, the captain said. "Additionally, we tried to rotate all cadets through the flying schedule so that they all got to experience actual flying, in the form of local training sorties," he said.

The C-17 mission to Hawaii was an opportunity to expand on the local training, he said.

"An off-station trainer that crosses the ocean is a great way to get cadets close to the mission in a controlled environment," Captain Ostermiller said. "They get to see all aspects, from working with the aerial port troops to interacting with the aircrew. Hopefully they come away from the experience with a smile on their face, but also with a better understanding of all the moving pieces involved in getting from A to B, especially when B is across the ocean."

In a sense, he said, the flight also served as an advertisement for the mobility mission. "You see a lot of the world, and Hawaii is a good way to get somebody's attention."

"The academy offers some great opportunities, including Operation Air Force," Captain Ostermiller said, "and it's important (for the cadets) to take those lessons they learn and hit the ground running."