Air Force ROTC cadets participate in field training day at SJAFB

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kimberly Barrera

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. – Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University participated in a day of field training at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, April 21, 2022.

Field training gave cadets hands-on experience led by U.S. Air Force service members who offered guidance and created a learning environment of exploration and growth. The training is an element of Seymour Johnson AFB’S partnership with N.C. A&T, as part of the base’s recruiting efforts with historically black colleges and universities.

“Many ROTC cadets do not grow up in military families or around bases, so this was an incredible opportunity for them to see an installation, the mission and what life could be like if they choose to pursue a commission as an Air Force Officer,” said 1st Lt. Sara Loveless, 4th Fighter Wing junior executive officer.

Upon arriving to base, Col. Kurt Helphinstine, 4th FW commander, greeted and briefed the cadets.

“The base commander briefed us on international relations and spoke to us about some of the things he wished he had known when he was our age,” said Christina Shelton, N.C. A&T ROTC Det. 605 cadet.

After the brief, the cadets visited the 4th Civil Engineer squadron explosive ordinance disposal flight, where they received classroom instructions on small-unit tactics and hands-on M4 Carbine training. Cadets also had the opportunity to explore EOD equipment and learn more about the career field.

“My favorite part of the course was when my peers put on the EOD suit and ran around doing exercises,” said Cadet Khalil Eatmon, N.C. A&T ROTC Det. 605.

Next, the cadets transitioned to field training where they applied the small unit tactics classroom instruction. During this event, teams of cadets moved between barriers, covering one another and communicating together in order to progress forward.

“There was a time constraint and although it wasn’t mentioned, we felt pressure to move fast,” said Eatmon. “It made me think about a real-world experience; am I moving correctly, going fast enough and will I fail my team?”

The small-unit tactics portion was the most challenging because we had to communicate and use team work, added Shelton.

While in the field, cadets also received small shelter system assembly training from the 4th CES. Once the tent was set up, lieutenants and cadets gathered inside for a mentorship session.

“Hosting these events allows cadets to have more information and experience prior to making decisions regarding their future careers,” said Loveless. “Cadets fill out forms indicating what jobs they would like to do in the Air Force while in ROTC, and their experiences at Seymour Johnson helps inform them of what they might want to do in the Air Force. Additionally, these opportunities allow them to see how what they are learning in the classroom applies to the Air Force, and in turn, makes them better equipped officers when they commission.”

The cadets wrapped up their training with a visit to the 333rd Fighter Generation Squadron where they had the opportunity to see an F-15E Strike Eagle and speak with maintainers about the aircraft and their mission.

Shelton said as a first-year student this experience allowed for career exploration and made her think about what she might want to do in the Air Force once she commissions.

“This experience focused on teamwork which definitely helped us grow closer as a detachment,” said Eatmon. “Hopefully we can bring back some of the knowledge that we learned here and enrich other cadets that were not able to attend the training.”