Thirteen U.S. Air Force Academy cadets, most of who are going into their junior year, visited Luke Air Force Base June 4 through Thursday as part of the Operation Air Force program. The cadets are the first of three groups that will be visiting Luke this summer.
Operation Air Force is a volunteer summer program that allows cadets to gain more knowledge and a clearer picture of how the operational Air Force functions.
â€œOPAF exposes cadets to actual work environments and specialty areas of operational units,â€ said 1st Lt. Christopher Clawson, 56th Logistics Readiness Squadron customer service officer-in-charge. â€œIt also shows them how different squadrons and agencies interact to achieve Lukeâ€™s mission.â€
According to the 2012 Operation Air Force syllabus, the overall experience is focused on enhancing cadetsâ€™ appreciation of the roles and interactions of operations and support units. Additionally, it challenges the cadets to develop the skills, knowledge and responsibilities in order to smoothly transition from the military academy to an officer of character.
At Luke, cadets had a chance to see real Airmen do what they do every day and how it correlates to what theyâ€™ve learned so far at the Academy.
â€œSo far my favorite tour was with the 56th Civil Engineering Squadron explosive ordnance disposal,â€ said Cadet Matthew Schneider. â€œFor me, it seems to be more applicable to what we do today in the Air Force, with the current improvised explosive device situation and the amount of convoys the EOD does.â€
For many cadets, the OPAF program gives more understanding of the Air Force and helps the cadets narrow career field choices, as well as making secondary choices.
â€œThe Operation Air Force program is great because itâ€™s shown me what the real Air Force is like,â€ said Cadet Russell Lee. â€œItâ€™s awesome to see the different types of jobs, and it definitely helps the decision making process. Currently, Iâ€™d like to be a pilot.â€
Although most of the cadets said they aspire to being pilots one day, one cadet wants to be able to help others through medicine.
â€œIâ€™d like to go into medicine because I like what they do for people,â€ said Cadet Jacob Krimbill. â€œEven though they arenâ€™t on the front lines, they still take care of people.â€
Whether on the front lines or taking care of people, the goal of OPAF is to help cadets see the daily operations of officers and the enlisted corps.
â€œItâ€™s nice to see a day in the life of a officer and how it compares to the education I received so far at the academy,â€ said Cadet Mathew Gamm.