ROTC Cadets learn about operational AF while at Misawa

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Vann Miller
  • 35th Fighter Wing public affairs
Awesome! The awe inspired teen climbed out of the crash-recovery crane with a smile and rushed over to her fellow Air Force cadets. 

She had just controlled a powerful vehicle designed to lift and move damaged aircraft. 

Though her training only required her to move a tennis ball using the hoist at the end of the extension arm, she had a chance to use equipment few Airmen ever even get to see in action. 

The expression on Cadet 4th Class Amber McColl's face told the full story of how Misawa Air Base was shaping the hearts and minds of some of the Air Force's future leaders during a recent visit to Japan. 

Though this trip to Japan was a learning experience and a once in a lifetime opportunity for hands-on training on unique equipment, Cadet McColl said this trip to Misawa was almost like a vacation. 

"I know we are going to briefings and are busy from seven to four, and we spend our time shadowing people on the job, but we are having fun," said Cadet McColl, a ROTC student from Los Angeles who attends Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. 

More than 20 cadets were sponsored to come to Misawa recently where they were given a chance to learn about the operational Air Force. 

This exposure gave these cadets a chance to experience various career fields and meet some of our Airmen, said Maj. Jennifer Vecchione, project officer for the cadet visit. 

"This trip gives the cadets an opportunity to work side-by-side with the officer and enlisted force," Major Vecchione said. "What they see and experience here could shape their entire Air Force careers." 

The cadets split into teams and dispersed across the base to visit various units. Three of the cadets had the unique chance to take an incentive ride in the Wild Weasel, Misawa's model of the F-16 Fighting Falcon. 

"I always knew I wanted to serve my country," said Cadet McColl. 

The young cadet comes from a family of officers, she said. Her father, a retired Navy officer and her sister, a lieutenant in the Army, have paved the way for her and supported her decision to join the Air Force. 

"Who knows, perhaps my younger sister will join the Coast Guard and we'll have them (military branches) all covered," she said. 

Looking at the choice to join the military, it was good one for her, the cadet said. During the visit to Misawa, the cadets witnessed life in northern Japan and got to know the men in women in today's Air Force. 

One cadet said she never thought she could ever be a part of something so "incredibly cool." 

The advice given to anyone thinking about serving their country or joining ROTC was best summed up by Cadet McColl as an easy choice. 

"Go Air Force!" she said.