Air Force ROTC detachement at UConn
Published: Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 00:09
Most students have probably seen some of their fellow students walking around the UConn campus in military uniforms or have heard of Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, more commonly referred to as Air Force ROTC. But they may not know much about it.
About 80 students currently make up Detachment 115 of Air Force ROTC here at UConn. The goal of Air Force ROTC is to prepare individuals to become officers in the Air Force following graduation.
“Everything that we do supports our overall mission of training quality leaders in the U.S. Air Force,” said Lt. Col. Kristopher Perry, commander of Air Force ROTC, Detachment 115.
The first two years of the ROTC program focus on the essential skills of followership, teamwork and problem- solving. Each cadet spends one hour per week in class learning the foundations and the history of the Air Force. Freshman and sophomore students also attend two hours of physical training a week, as well as two hours of a leadership lab, which includes military drill and leadership activities. The leadership lab is organized similarly to the basic structure of the Air Force.
In between their sophomore and junior years, ROTC students participate in field training for four weeks at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. Students have a very different experience at field training versus college, as it is their first taste of military life. Everything at UConn in the leadership labs is done in a friendly environment, while field training is more of the typical high-stress military environment.
Timothy Mertz, a 7th-semseter nutrition major, said field training is his favorite Air Force ROTC experience thus far. He said he enjoyed learning things like convoy operations, how to defend a base, run security check points and basic combat and survival skills.
Perry said field training “makes sure young people we will commission in the Air Force are prepared to think in a high stress environment like active combat.”
Perry called field training a “watershed,” or life-changing, experience for Air Force cadets.
Following field training, junior and senior ROTC students participate in a three-credit leadership course, as well as two hours of physical training and two hours of leadership lab. The second two years of the ROTC program focus on learning how to be a leader, according to Perry.
Sarah Peschet, a 5th-semester ecology and evolutionary biology major, said one of her favorite Air Force ROTC experiences was learning escape and evasion tactics by playing paintball. She said the upperclassmen played the role of the insurgents, while the lowerclassmen defended the base.
Peschet walked onto the program one week before her freshman year, because she enjoys working with people and being pushed out of her comfort zone.
“I’ve always wanted to do something military after 9/11, even though I was only nine at the time,” she said.
Perry said students choose Air Force ROTC, because it provides them the opportunity to walk on and try it out.
“It provides risk-free exposure to what it is like to be in the Air Force,” said Perry.
Students interested in joining can visit the Air Force ROTC program on the fourth floor of the William Henry Hall Dormitory Building or check out their website at www.airforce.uconn.edu.