MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. --
Nine cadets from the United States Air Force Academy are visiting here July 12-27, 2022, as part of the Operation Air Force program.
Operation Air Force allows Academy cadets to spend two and a half weeks observing the responsibilities of active duty Airmen at bases across the United States, as well as overseas.
“The cadets visiting McConnell will start their junior year at the Academy this fall. During this upcoming academic year, they will submit their preference list of [Air Force Specialty Codes] that they would like to serve in,” said 2nd Lt. Meghan Carbiener, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels management flight commander and base director for the visit. “Not only does this program give them some experience in what the ‘Big Air Force’ will be like after commissioning, but it gives them a chance to learn about the different AFSCs and identify careers that they feel would be a good fit for them.”
While at McConnell, the cadets saw first-hand McConnell’s air refueling mission. They also visited supporting agencies that make the mission possible and provide a high quality of life for the Airmen stationed here.
“At the Academy we get to talk to a lot of people from all sorts of different career fields, which is really cool,” said Cadet 2nd Class Delia Cheney, Cadet Squadron 24. “But the issue with that is you don’t get to actually see what the career field is like. They can talk to you about it, but they can never communicate to you an experience. So being here and walking through people’s day-to-day lives gives an actual up close look at what they do for their jobs, and that’s been really helpful for me.”
In addition to seeing how the mission is accomplished, the cadets also received mentorship from officers and noncommissioned officers from across all five of the 22nd Air Refueling Wing’s groups and from the 22nd ARW’s commander, Col. Nate Vogel.
“Being here has helped me realize that as an officer you’re thrown into a position where you have to lead and manage from the get go,” said Cadet 2nd Class Jeremy Chen, Cadet Squadron 16. “We’ve seen this with the maintenance officers, force support, contracting - they’re all required to lead from the start. That has been a pretty eye-opening experience. While at the academy you can look for leadership opportunities, but here it’s feet first into the deep end.”