AFDW mentors future officers

  • Published
  • By 1st. Lt. Katy Dunkelberger
  • Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs
The Air Force District of Washington oversees a variety of unique missions that support the National Capitol Region. Over the past two weeks AFDW has had the opportunity to share and explain these missions with a group of officer cadets.

Six second class cadets (juniors) from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., are visiting Joint Base Andrews as part of the Operations Air Force program. The program gives the cadets an opportunity to experience operational Air Force missions in order to prepare them to be Air Force Officers upon graduation from USAFA.

The cadets spent 3 days with AFDW’s 11th Wing, where they learned about mission support functions such as force support, communications, logistics, finance, contracting, civil engineering and security forces. They also spent time with the 1stHelicopter Squadron, which provides rotary-wing airlift support for contingency operations and Department of Defense senior leaders in the NCR.

“We took the cadets on a tour of the squadron, showing them our maintenance shops, aircrew flight equipment, scheduling and training shops among others. They were also taken on a flight around Washington D.C., that lasted over two and a half hours. They participated in all the aircrew briefings as well as the pre-flight walk-around. This experience was a fantastic opportunity for them to get an in- depth look at the daily life of a helicopter pilot here,” said Capt. Vann Neal, 1st Helicopter Squadron.

AFDW’s 79th Medical Wing spent time showing the cadets their mission of providing medical support to the NCR.

The 89th Airlift Wing, which reports to Air Mobility Command but is located on Joint Base Andrews, also introduced the cadets to their mission of executive airlift. The cadets were given the opportunity to tour some of the special mission aircraft, as well as learn about the support functions required for fixed-wing aircraft.

In addition to teaching the cadets about AFDW’s various missions, the Operations Air Force program is a valuable opportunity for mentoring future officers. Members of AFDW leadership, as well as senior noncommissioned officers and company grade officers, spent time answering questions and imparting wisdom during a series of panel discussions with the cadets.

All panels stressed the importance of finding a good senior NCO and mentor to learn from.

“Latch yourself to an old crusty SNCO and listen to what they have to say,” said Senior Master Sgt. J.J. Knisley, 811th Security Forces Squadron.

The program helped provide valuable insight to the cadets who will one day be leaders in the operational Air Force.

“You need to humble yourself and open your ears,” said Capt. Rogelio Becerra 779th Medical Group clinical social worker. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help and know your role and learn from your mistakes.”