Fifty Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets from Rancho Verde High School and Arlington High School graduated from a two week summer leadership school, in the Cultural Resource Center, at March Air Reserve Base, June 26.
(Ret.) Capt. Jeffrey Stein, JROTC instructor, from Rancho Verde High School, gave a special thanks to (Ret.) Col. Nancy Driscoll, chief of public health flight, 452nd bio-environmental, for organizing the event. He also thanked all the personnel at March ARB who helped create, “another great leadership school,” he said.
The program has been a fixture at the base for more than a dozen years. It is designed to enhance students’ preexisting knowledge of the Air Force, introduce them to new opportunities and foster teamwork among the cadets.
The group visited the new firing range, KC-135, C-17, F-16 and Reaper static aircraft, maintenance shops, explosive ordnance disposal, aircrew flight equipment, the Museum and a special obstacle course developed by the March Field Fire Emergency Services.
“The Fire Department was a big hit,” Driscoll said. “They thought it was really cool and had a great time.”
Cadets Jacob Caldwell and Jonathan Torres both agreed the obstacle course was their favorite part of the program, especially maneuvering around in the confined spaces portion, each said.
Cadet Isaac Garcia also spoke highly of the obstacle course, stating his favorite part was trying to squeeze through the tight spaces, despite the difficulty, he said.
“It was nerve-wracking, but I got through it and it gave me more confidence,” Garcia said.
Building confidence was another benefit of the program. Part of building that confidence was instilling the importance of dress and appearance standards and discipline.
Master Sgt. Darryl Willingham, training flight NCO, 452nd blue eagles honor guard, inspected each cadet on proper wear of the uniform and Cadet Alejandra Felix stood out among the cadets in her dress and appearance.
Willingham also held a drill competition, where he gave drill commands to the group, eliminating those who failed to comply properly until only one cadet was left standing.
Cadet Christian Villalobos was the last cadet standing after the drill competition. He and Felix were both recognized in front of their peers and family during the graduation ceremony.
Maj. Adam Walker, pilot, 336th refueling squadron, was the guest speaker during the graduation ceremony and prior to handing out certificates, he congratulated them on their accomplishments and encouraged every student to focus on where they wanted to be years down the road.
“What is important is that you have focus and a goal in mind for what you want to do in your life,” Walker said.
After graduating, Garcia summed up his experience by emphasizing how much he was going to miss everyone and how much he enjoyed the program.
“Even though I just met them these last two weeks, it feels like a lifetime; it’s been a big family, he said. “This has been an experience of a lifetime.”