Sioux city, Iowa --
39 cadets from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado are visiting the Iowa Air National Guard’s 185th Air Refueling Wing in Sioux City, Iowa and the 132nd Wing in Des Moines, Iowa, September 15, 16 and 17, 2017.
The cadets experienced a flight on a 185th KC-135 aircraft from Colorado to Iowa as a part of a new program between the Iowa Air National Guard and the Air Force Academy.
The visit includes a tour of the 185th Boom Operation Simulator, 133rd Test Sq, 185th Paint Facility, KC-135 Maintenance, Nuclear Mission familiarization, a UH-60 helicopter, Cyber & RPA operations, and engage in discussion with an Airmen panel.
The program was initiated by the Adjutant General of Iowa, Maj. Gen. Timothy E. Orr. Orr said he wanted the cadets to be aware of the efforts of the Air National Guard.
“I really want them to see what our airmen do on the weekends, 90% of the personnel that come to our wing in the Iowa National Guard have other jobs, other occupations and they’re doing this out of service, out of commitment and they make up a large part of the Air Force. So it’s important for them to realize in their career they are going to come across these men and women somewhere, whether it’s a deployment or operational assignment, and I think it’s having a better understanding of the total Air Force and the reserve components that make that up,” said Orr.
Maj. Jamie Johnson, a commander of the 29th squadron at the Academy, said that they have a sponsor Wing program where the 40 squadrons of the Academy are hosted by an Active Duty Wing and that this is the first time he was aware that USAFA has partnered with ANG.
“They have committed to serving the Air Force so this is an opportunity to allow them to see a multitude of mission sets and AFSCs before they have to decide their own AFSC at the beginning of their First Class year,” said Johnson.
Johnson also said that it was a great opportunity for the cadets to see the whole Air Force as one team.
Cadet 2nd Class Jenna Petty, whose family resides in Spirit Lake Iowa, said that she had a chance to see an active duty Air Force unit but it was the first time she had any real exposure to the Guard. She also stated that this was her first time flying in a KC-135 Aircraft and seeing aerial refueling operations.
“Being able to sit in the cockpit on takeoff was really exciting, this was my first time doing anything like this,” said Petty.
Petty also said that USAFA Cadets are assigned to active duty units after graduation for five years, but she saw the benefits of the part time force from friends that joined the National Guard after high school.
Cadet 2nd Class Ty Thede, from Maquoketa, Iowa, said he was happy to be back and very impressed with the capabilities of the Air National Guard.
“The trip has been awesome, definitely a different side of the Air Force that we (cadets) haven’t seen before, it was impressive, I didn’t know Iowa did this,” said Thede.