919th SOW leaders, recruiters inspire next generation of cadets

  • Published
  • By Michelle Gigante
  • 919th Special Operations Wing

Air Force Junior Reserves Officers’ Training Corps drill team cadets at Walton High School in Defuniak Springs, Florida, recently had a special visit during their finals week. Instead of having to take a test, they got the final push they needed to make important life changing decisions.

The 919th Special Operations Commander, Col. Jason Grandy, and 919th SOW command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Manuel Zubia came together with the 351st Recruiting Squadron to encourage the young cadets to continue exploring career options in the military.

“It is important for us to get out here in the school districts, because many students are not familiar with the opportunities they have available to them,” said Chief Master Sgt. Melissa Melichar, 351st RS accessions superintendent. “They don’t know it is a job where the USAF profession of arms can help build those resumes and provide a steppingstone for future opportunities beyond the Air Force Reserve.”

This was the first of several planned outings Wing leadership and 351st RCS participated in to meet cadets in the local community. The outreach initiative to engage with local school districts and connect U.S. Air Force members with youth is intended to educate young people and about the value of military service.

Grandy and Zubia shared some insight to the room full of young cadets about their own experiences in the military.

“The training we get along the way from our peers and from our supervisors and from our commanders is second to none,” said Zubia. “I am here to tell you if you want to develop yourself, you want to become a leader, you want to do something, this is the opportunity.”

Zubia elaborated to the young cadets that continuous education is important.

“I am a product of teammates like the men and women in uniform,” said Zubia. “I am here because they grew with me along the way.”

The 919th SOW command chief reiterated the opportunity is completely up to them and said they have to make the choice. One cadet got the nudge for his career pursuits.

“It was very insightful,” said Philip Mitchel, Walton High School ROTC cadet. “I got questions answered to make some big decisions hopefully in the future.”