Cadet writes about life in Air Force ROTC

By C/1st Lt. Kody Derosier

The Air Force Reserve Officer Training Program molds young cadets into ideal Air Force leaders. Along with becoming an officer, cadets are pushed to become better citizens by volunteering in the community. At South Dakota State’s Detachment 780, we push cadets to be the best citizens they can be.

One example of a model cadet is Jordan Erickson. Jordan is an Air Force Leader and selfless citizen. Jordan spent his summer down in New Orleans, La., working as an intern with Urban Impact Ministries. Jordan’s mission was to create a neighborhood where kids could ride their bikes, play, and feel safe. Jordan was stationed near the Hoffman Triangle only six miles from the French Quarter, which is one of the top five for highest crime rates in the nation. The interns do their best to change the lives of as many people as they can. This is just one example of Air Force cadets doing their best to be active in the community.


Cadet Christopher Jankowski also had a very busy summer.  This summer Chris participated in a program called Project Go. Project Go is set up to teach future officers to speak the many important languages of the world. Chris spent just over one month at the University of Arizona in Tucson learning the language of Arabic.

When I spoke to Chris about his days in Arizona he said, “During the day I attended a lecture on the Arabic language, which included speaking with partners, instructors, writing and typing. I was also required to attend one hour of tutoring every day to ensure that I comprehended all the material from the day. My Friday nights was spent attending cultural events such as watching Arabic movies, interacting with Arabic people, and eating at Arabic restaurants.”

I asked Chris what his favorite part about being in Arizona was, he replied, “having the opportunity to learn the language of Modern Standard Arabic. I have learned how to speak the language in past, present, and future tense. I have gathered enough vocabulary to hold a casual conversation with an Arabic speaker. I have also learned a great deal about the Arabic Culture.”


The Air Force ROTC program is a four-year program. The first two years are spent as GMC (General Military Corps).  As a GMC cadet you have two years to perfect your leadership style and prove to the Air Force that you are the type of officer that they are looking for. At the end of the second year each cadet competes for a field-training slot.  It is very competitive, but Detachment 780 last year we had a 90 percent selection rate.

Field training is a right of passage for all cadets. At field training you begin the transition from a GMC to a POC (Professional Officer Corps). Field training is not easy; it’s twenty-eight days of yelling and unbelievable heat.  Detachment 780 did such a good job training their cadets that one hundred percent of the cadets that attended graduated, and one cadet graduated with honors. Cadet Nathan Shilvock graduated as a superior performer.

When I interviewed Nathan I asked how he did it, and he said, “When I first arrived at field training all I wanted to do was graduate. Everyone kept telling me how much it was going to suck and that I just needed to embrace it. While at field training I wanted to become a better person, and better prepare myself to be an officer in the world’s greatest Air Force. Every day I woke up with determination to succeed and to never give up, no matter how hard it was, and I accomplished just this. The most important thing to remember is to be the best wingman you could be. At the end of training when they were giving out awards, I was surprised to hear them call my name for Superior performer. I was elated. My best advice is to never sacrifice that which is truly important for meaningless things.”

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Nathan was not the only cadet from Detachment 780 to spend his summer down in the boiling south. Cadet Travis Charfauros spent his summer down in Mississippi as a Cadet Training Assistant or CTA. Travis was assigned to be a flight CTA. When I asked Travis about his responsibilities as a CTA, he said, “My duties entailed evaluating, supervising, and mentoring a flight of 20 plus cadets. Sometimes I was supervising the whole squadron of 40 plus cadets. Getting an opportunity to have such a large impact on this stage of young leaders’ career is just mind blowing to me. Being able to help them troubleshoot a tough situation, give them that ‘hard love’ with honest feedback, and then sit back and watch them succeed all on their own was probably one of the most gratifying moments I have ever had.

“Also, as a cadet being able to work so closely to Officers was an honor and a privilege. It was a gratifying experience getting to hear the stories on how active duty works and what attributes are truly important to work on now at this level of my career before I commission. The most important thing I learned down there is to do your best at every job that you are given no matter how small.”

Detachment 780 is proud of each and every one of their cadets. Detachment 780 pushes each cadet to improve as citizens and to become better officers in the world’s greatest Air Force. AFROTC offers many fantastic programs that will better prepare each cadet for active duty. After all, the purpose of ROTC is to develop leaders of the future.


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