Members of the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron deployed to Southwest Asia use teleconferencing to speak with Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps NC-955 cadets from Piedmont High School in Monroe, N.C., Feb. 25, 2013. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Christian Michael)
Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps NC-955 cadets from Piedmont High School in Monroe, N.C., video teleconferenced with members of the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron deployed to Southwest Asia, on Feb. 25, 2013. (Courtesty photo)
by Master Sgt. Christian Michael
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
3/8/2013 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- The image was small, but the smiles were big as four deployed service members connected to a classroom full of Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets in North Carolina, more than 8,000 miles away.
The cadets of Piedmont High School AFJROTC NC-955 in Monroe, N.C., video conferenced Feb. 25, with 1st Lt. Anne Marie Kemp, a C-17 Pilot ; Airman 1st Class Vincenzo Denisi, a loadmaster; and Airman 1st Class Omari Briggs, intelligence analyst and Tech. Sgt. Tara Jackson, flying crew chief. The members talked with students about their lives in the Air Force, experiences while deployed and their individual careers.
"One of the most important things I think we tried to convey to the cadets was our teamwork -- how the pilots, loadmasters, FCC and intel work as a team and no part is greater or less than any other part," said Denisi, a former school teacher. "During this experience, I also had the opportunity to learn and grow, the biggest take away being the excitement and support from younger Americans who are willing and able to step in and continue the fight."
The 30-minute session offered students an opportunity to go straight to the source, asking service members directly about the Air Force and military lifestyle. Despite the eight-hour difference, Airmen and cadets connected.
"I wanted to highlight the Air Force to our cadets while enhancing their understanding of the Air Force and its mission," retired Chief Master Sgt. Dwight Holmes said, the AFJROTC instructor with NC-955. "I think the cadets had more questions about the Air Force after the Skyping session than they have all year."
The cadets soaked in what the deployed members shared, giving the students more to think about as they plan their own future careers.
"What I got from the conversation with the deployed Airmen was the pros and cons of the Air Force, and what Airman life was like overseas. We got a taste of what being a pilot, a crew chief, a loadmaster and an intelligence analyst is like," said Cadet Staff Sgt. Maverick Sprowles, a sophomore who wants to join the U.S. Navy as a combat camera specialist. "I loved that these Airmen donated their own time to talk to our unit and answer our questions that we asked."
The Airmen, too, gained their own perspectives from the opportunity.
"I thought it was cool talking with people like that, people trying to figure out what they want to do with their life and influencing them, give them a better idea of things are like here," Kemp said. "I hope they were able to learn."