[by C/4C Adam Fuhrmann ’11]
Every Air Force ROTC cadet has the opportunity to attend a 3 week base visit called “Ops Air Force” during the summer after their freshman year. This program is a Professional Development Training (PDT) program designed to give cadets a better view of Air Force life so that they will become better officers in the future.
I spent my summer PDT at Dyess AFB in Abilene, TX. Dyess is home to the 7th Bomb Wing with a fleet of B-1B bombers as well as the 317th Airlift group comprised of C-130s. Thirteen other cadets on the visit and I were split up among the different groups throughout the base and shifted around to different squadrons to get a broad view of base operations. I was lucky enough to be assigned to the B-1B Maintenance Group. I was able to get down and dirty in some jets and really get to know the enlisted side of the Air Force which keeps our planes airborne. During my three weeks I had some amazing experiences that few of my friends could ever dream of. I helped repair a damaged B-1 engine, replaced hydraulic components, brakes, tires, indicators, inspected bomb racks and worked on the ejection seats. During the last week I spent my days out on the flight line where I marshaled and launched a B1 and conducted engine tests.
In addition to our scheduled work rotations the base also had special activities planned for the cadets while we were there. We are able to get C-130 flights, B1-B simulator flights, Habitat for Humanity project, barbeque with the executive base staff and an Explosive Ordanance Disposal (EOD) demonstration. The other cadets and I had the opportunity to leave the base on nights and weekends: we went paintballing, saw a few movies and had some amazing Texas beef brisket!
Even though all of these things sound super cool I feel that the most important thing I took away from my trip was an appreciation for the enlisted troops that I’ll one day have the opportunity to lead and how much they contribute to our Air Force. In ROTC, during the school year, we are only exposed to a very small sliver of what the real Air Force is like. The experiences I had working on real projects crucial to our nation’s defense rejuvenated my enthusiasm in ROTC and I can’t wait to continue in the fall!