USAFA Cadets visit McConnell

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Felicia Przydzial
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

The 22nd Air Refueling Wing hosted nine cadets from the U.S. Air Force Academy as part of Operation Air Force program, June 4-19, 2024.

The Operation Air Force program is hosted by USAFA every year with small groups of cadets visiting bases across the Air Force to get a feel for life as an Airmen and to explore different Air Force Specialty Codes.

            “The cadets that participate in Ops Air Force are rising juniors who will commission in 2026, who will be submitting their career dream sheets in the coming academic year,” said Capt. Bailey Compton, 22nd Communications Squadron network control center officer in charge. “This program gives them the opportunity to see what day-to-day life looks like for company grade officers in each career field, giving them critical insight to inform their AFSC preferences. It also allows McConnell members to impart information and advice to these cadets, mentoring the next generation of lieutenants.”

Compton and 2nd Lt. Lynley Mainous, 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron assistant officer-in-charge, coordinated with the 22nd Mission Support, Maintenance and Operations Groups to create a schedule for the cadets, allowing them to see how everyone contributes to McConnell’s mission.

“The biggest reason we are here is to get a feel of the real Air Force,” said Cadet 2nd Class Dustyn Schettler, Cadet Squadron 9 and Kansas native. “The Academy is kind of its own thing. This is a way to broaden our horizons a little bit to see what all the career fields are like and what they do.”

Cadets visited the 22nd Communications, Force Support squadron, Logistics Readiness Squadrons, in addition to different offices around the 22nd Operational Support Squadron. They were also given the chance to try out the KC-46 simulator and to take an incentive ride with the 349th Air Refueling Squadron. During their immersion with maintenance, the cadets visited Air Education and Training Command Detachment 8 to see what training is like for enlisted Airmen who are brand new to the Air Force.

“Being here has given me clarity of what I really want to do,” said Cadet 2nd Class Madison Carlisle, Cadet Squadron 1. “Before I didn’t know, but now I have more perspective on different career fields in the Air Force.”

Throughout their visit to McConnell, the cadets had different panels with senior non-commissioned officers, company grade officers and first sergeants from around the wing. These engagements left the cadets with advice on leadership and mentorship they will take with them back to the Academy and into their future service.