JROTC cadets get taste of active-duty life

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Michael Charles
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs Office
The first day of their military career is also the most remembered for a majority of service members. 

A heightened sense of fear and nervousness due to not knowing what to expect is what most new recruits feel when they begin their military journey. Then it gets worse when the Military Training Instructors walk onto the bus and explain how Basic Military Training is going to work, followed by the words that will forever be etched into the minds of servicemembers going through basic training. "Get off my bus." 

Every year Nellis simulates this process for a hand-selected group of Junior Reserve Officer Training Course cadets from various high schools in the Las Vegas area. 

Seventy-four cadets graduated this week-long in-residence Summer Leadership School, which followed the BMT format, in a ceremony at the base theater June 26. 

"I remember getting off the bus and wondering 'what did I get into?'" said Cadet Master Sgt. Arielle Lupia, Charlie Flight commander and Rancho High School student. 

"The hardest part isn't walking in the doors; it's walking out," said Lt. Col. Jon Heileman, 99th Mission Support Group deputy commander. "Now that you have graduated, you have to apply what you have learned in everyday situations." 

The cadets participated in physical training exercises, ceremony and drill, leadership and teamwork building courses, which are based on an Airman Leadership School curriculum. The SLS was designed to give each participating cadet the leadership tools each servicemember uses on a regular basis to complete their missions of the military. These cadets will in turn bring that knowledge, leadership and experience back to the various JROTC units and become the student leaders at their schools, communities and JROTC programs. 

Nellis relied on volunteers from various tenant units to make the SLS possible. Former military training instructors, ALS instructors, security forces, medical and maintenance personnel are just a few of the many volunteers from Nellis who acted as the Military Training Instructors for the SLS. 

"It's a great experience for them to have, said Tech. Sgt. Michael Hodges, 99th Medical Operation Squadron cardio pulmonary phase two instructor and MTI for Delta Flight. "Working with the youth and giving them direction to be better leaders is always a great feeling to have. I hope they took the mental discipline and the leadership principals we instilled into them away from this opportunity." 

The mission of the Air Force JROTC program is to develop citizens of character dedicated to serving their nation and community. Through Nellis many Airman are afforded the opportunity to help this mission by making a positive impact on the lives of the young men and woman who will be the nation's future leaders. 

"JROTC helped me get to where I am today," said Master Sgt. Travis Wilcox, 99th MSG chief of knowledge operations management and SLS coordinator. "Hopefully this SLS has helped to inspire the cadets to aim higher in life; like it did for me." 

The Air Force JROTC program enrolls approximately 102,000 cadets and employs more than 1,700 instructors in more than 48 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Italy, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Guam.