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December 20, 2013

Luke Airmen outfit future Air Force leaders

Agua Fria Junior ROTC Group Cadets and Luke Air Force Base Airmen bring boxes of uniforms to a classroom Dec. 4 at Agua Fria High School in Avondale. The 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron unit advisory council held a drive to acquire gently used ABUs, Battle Dress Uniforms and boots, collecting more than 84 individual pieces.

The Air Force uniform. It’s a part of an Airman’s life that many don’t give a second thought to. But for the cadets of the Agua Fria High School Air Force Junior ROTC, getting enough uniforms to outfit their entire flight was a challenge. Enter the Airmen at Luke Air Force Base.

Members of the 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron Unit Advisory Council held a uniform drive for the Agua Fria High School Junior ROTC. They collected more than 34 sets of gently used Airman Battle Uniforms and BDUs, along with boots to complete the ensemble, for distribution to the cadets.

“EMS UAC does quarterly community involvement events,” said Staff Sgt. Chad Calhoun, 56th EMS munitions inspection bay chief and UAC president. “During an event in October, we met retired Lt. Col. Rodney Clements, AFJROTC senior aerospace science instructor. He told us that more than half of the students do not have uniforms, and due to this, they are not able to participate in formations and drill. So we decided to help out by having a squadron-wide uniform drive to help the students who could not afford uniforms.”

Uniforms for Airmen help to inspire a sense of pride and camaraderie; a sense of belonging, according to Master Sgt. Sheris Poisson, 56th Force Support Squadron Airman Leadership School commandant. For members of the Junior ROTC, their use of uniforms helps to serve the same purpose. Junior ROTC cadets are held to a similar standard as their service member counterparts. Cadets who aren’t in proper uniform are not allowed to participate in formations.

“I appreciate all the donations to our corps,” said retired Chief Master Sgt. Michelle Siau, Agua Fria High School aerospace science instructor. “We have 175 cadets this year and receiving these uniforms will mean a lot to them.”

Air Force Junior ROTC Headquarters does not provide units with uniforms. With Agua Fria being a Title 1 school in which more than 68.1 percent of the students on the free and reduced lunches program, the cadets must resort to other means to procure uniforms. Army Reserve and Guard units have helped supply them in the past. Some of the older students had uniforms, but many of them are torn and unserviceable, Siau said.

The attitude of giving back to the community is one Airmen are encouraged to exemplify. By holding this drive, EMS Airmen hope to teach the Junior ROTC cadets how the Air Forces core values of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do help to define them and make a lasting impression on them and their choices later in life.

“This has been a rewarding semester and this gift of uniforms is a reward for all their hard work,” Siau said. “This act provides some of the cadets ABU uniforms to wear when authorized. It means a lot to them to receive these uniforms.”




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