Crossing into the blue

Cadet Daniel Hurtt
U.S. Air Force Academy

***image2***Every summer, the Air Force Academy sends cadets to Air Force bases around the world through the program called Operation Air Force.  The program gives cadets the opportunity to experience the operational Air Force before commissioning. On June 5, 43 cadets arrived at Ramstein to gain insight into the operations performed by the 86th Airlift Wing and 435th Air Base Wing.
Cadet Jonathan Luhrmann said of the program, “As future officers, it is essential that we gain first-hand experience from professional war fighters. The time spent here among Team Ramstein will prove invaluable to providing us with insight into how to live out the core values while fighting the Global War on Terror.”

Each cadet gains experience by working through the program specific to the class year. First class cadets shadow company grade officers assigned to the career field that cadets will enter upon graduation from the Academy. Second class cadets shadow CGOs in several fields in both operational and support units to understand CGO roles in both units. Third class cadets work with NCOs to gain an appreciation for the enlisted workforce and understand the expectations enlisted members have of their officers.

“As a new lieutenant, it is important to listen to NCOs who have more experience. They have a lot to offer and can help inexperienced lieutenants learn to lead their Airmen,” said Cadet Jen Nolta of her experience working with the Airmen in the 37th Airlift Squadron Life Support.

***image1***For the past three weeks, the cadets have experienced the mission of Ramstein through working alongside the Airmen, NCOs and officers of the 86th AW and 435th ABW. Throughout the assignment here, cadets have worked in many different occupations. From turning wrenches, to sorting mail, to flying with the 37th AS, cadets have participated in the mission wherever possible while learning all they can about the operational Air Force, said Capt. Rich Dorrance, Operation Air Force base director and 86th AW pilot.

A lot of cadets will remember their Ramstein experience for many years. “Seeing the interaction between officers and enlisted and the officer leadership, outside the small view the Academy provides, will be the most memorable experience,” said Cadet Stephanie Schmidt.