Air Force JROTC cadets mentored by Active-Duty, Guard, ROTC Airmen

  • Published
  • By Roland Balik
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Sixty-seven Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets from five Delaware high schools participated in a six-day Cadet Leadership Course at the Delaware National Guard Bethany Beach Training Site June 16-21, 2019.

Air Force JROTC cadets from Caesar Rodney High School in Camden, Middletown High School in Middletown, Polytech High School in Woodside, Smyrna High School in Smyrna and William Penn High School in New Castle received a basic training-style indoctrination to the Air Force, replete with drill and ceremony practice. Eight of the cadets returned to CLC as Cadet Training Instructors to mentor junior cadets.

“Our mission in Air Force JROTC is to develop citizens of character dedicated to serving their nation and community … We’re a citizenship and leadership program,” said U.S. Air Force Reserve retired Col. Mark Hetterly, senior aerospace instructor at Smyrna High School and CLC commandant. “During the year, our cadets in the various schools do thousands of hours of community service; all of that is cadet-led.”

Active-duty personnel from Dover AFB; Langley AFB, Virginia; Air Force ROTC cadets from Detachment 128 at the University of Delaware in Newark and their high school Air Force JROTC instructors served as Cadet Training Advisors or CTAs.

“Our Airmen [CTAs] benefit as well because they go back to their squadrons stronger,” said Hetterly. “They are getting informal professional military education here because they are developing their leadership skills. It’s really a win-win for everyone.”

Dover AFB personnel from Ravens assigned to the 436th Security Forces Squadron; the 436th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight; the 436th Medical Group and the New Castle Air National Guard Base’s 142nd Airlift Squadron provided hands-on training and demonstrations to the cadets.

“This camp would be very different without the support of Dover AFB because they bring the real-world experience,” said Hetterly. “It’s very important for young folks to come in and speak to the cadets in a different way.”

“We’re here to teach, train and mentor cadets to be better citizens,” said Staff Sgt. Stephen Peters, 436th Maintenance Squadron crew chief and a CLC CTA. “Cadets that do come here come out better leaders and team players.”

Peters, who has four CLCs under his belt – including one as an Air Force JROTC cadet himself – coordinates with military units and personnel to provide training support for CLC.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have Staff Sgt. Peters with us,” said Hetterly. “He’s been volunteering his time for actually a total of five years, helping instruct our drill teams and color guards on his free time as his community service.”

As first-time CTA, Tech. Sgt. Jessica Boyanton, 373rd Training Squadron Det 3 C-5 military training leader, discovered that the skills she learned while working with cadets translated well into her day-to-day job, working with students at Dover AFB.

“I ultimately liked the mentorship portion by being able to have an impact on high school kids and how to help them develop as leaders,” said Boyanton. “Part of my job is development, mentoring, training and leading, and being able to do that with the younger generation – It’s something I’m really passionate about; it’s an amazing opportunity to do this here.”

Experiences and training provided by Air Force JROTC prepare cadets for future life experiences and military career challenges.

“It [Air Force JROTC] taught me how to take charge, follow and be strong when needed,” said Staff Sgt. Onise Civil, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron Airman dorm leader and CTA. “It gave me stability and discipline whenever challenges came; I knew how to face them because I was groomed when I was younger to face those challenges.”

Cadets experienced aircrew water and land survival training provided by 142nd AS C-130H2 Hercules loadmasters and aircrew flight equipment technicians.

The Air Force JROTC program does not recruit high school students into the Air Force, whether active duty, Reserve or Guard.