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That Air Force Pride

By: Cadet Jessica Sunkamaneevongse, Class of 2015

The thought to join the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corp (AFROTC) came to me out of the blue one day while walking on the Oval. I cannot pinpoint the exact reason as to why I wanted to join but I will admit that one of the reasons was that I needed financial aid for tuition and thought maybe I had a chance at an AFROTC scholarship. But after one week in AFROTC, my priorities completely changed as well as my intentions on remaining in the program—I want to serve my country.

I joined AFROTC in Winter Quarter of 2012, a quarter after the program has commenced. And despite being consumed with anxiety as to what to expect, I immediately became surprised and overwhelmed at how fellow cadets were willing to help me without any question—truly living up to the wingman concept. And as the quarter progressed, I never stopped learning whether it was knowledge, drills and ceremonies, customs and courtesies—you name it. But the most important lesson of all has to be this: That US Air Force Pride. … I was medically dis-enrolled from AFROTC the third week of Spring Quarter 2012 and it was then that I finally put everything into perspective. Why is it that the Professional Officer Course (POC) cadets are always harping on us to have excellence in all we do? Why do the Cadre always emphasize the importance in maintaining a sharp uniform? Why does the banner in the General Military Course (GMC) cadet office read: “What have you done today to earn your commission?” It is because one day, we will be officers in the greatest air force the world has ever known: THE United States Air Force. So certainly, the road toward commissioning and active duty is not a smooth one but is shrouded with blood, sweat, and tears.

During the three weeks I was off program, I was not able to wear my uniform anymore. But it was more than that; I was no longer a cadet at Detachment 645, I was no longer an active Arnold Air Society (AAS) member, I was no longer affiliated with the Air Force in any mean, shape, or form. This is not to say that the Air Force and AFROTC is some “club” that anyone can “join” and “drop” at any moment’s time. But rather, it is the complete opposite. When you put on your uniform, you are no longer that Average Joe living an average life. Your uniform not only represents the Air Force but it represents your commitment to the Air Force, your allegiance to your country—THE United States of America—and shows the rest of society that “Yes, I am willing to sacrifice my life for our freedom.” Why? Well, let’s just say one of our fellow cadets put it best in saying that “The worst day in America is greater than the best day anywhere else.”

So to all incoming Air Science 100 (AS 100) cadets (i.e. freshmen), know this: AFROTC is not a club, your uniform is not a costume, and you are not entitled to any right. Being in AFROTC is a privilege and an honor; it is a program designed to fashion cadets into quality leaders for the United States Air Force. So make every moment of it worthwhile but have fun and do not be afraid to ask questions. The Professional Officer Course (POC) cadets are here to help us and they have been in our position before; do not hesitate to seek their guidance and advice. And most importantly, know that we are all on the same side, working toward the same goal of becoming an Air Force officer; and while our journey there may be different, it does not mean we cannot enjoy it together. HUA!