Integrity First, Service Before Self, Excellence in All We Do
A lot of MU seniors spend their last few months of college in a panic while they search for their first real job. Seventeen students who completed training with the Air Force Reserve Office Training Corps (AFROTC) could rest easy knowing their jobs were waiting on them. On May 13, these cadets were commissioned as second lieutenants in the United States Air Force. In exchange for college scholarships and money for expenses, AFROTC cadets work four to six years as active-duty officers in technical, non-technical, specialty, or flight careers, depending on their college major and individual interests.
“Each of our cadets has literally shed blood, sweat, and tears in Crowder Hall on their journey toward becoming a United States Air Force officer,” says Lieutenant Colonel Wayne Doherty, commander of MU’s AFROTC Detachment 440. “They have handled the struggles and the adversity associated with leadership training, and have done so with extreme focus and professionalism.”
Maj. Brent Unger is responsible for the recruiting and retention activities at the detachment and is also a freshman instructor. He says this year’s class is one of the most competitive classes he remembers, and that the continued success of this program is because of the cadre’s ownership in the mission of developing cadet leaders.
“We have been lucky to have phenomenal cadets join our program and provide key leadership in each class,” says Unger. We have had a tradition of producing fine military officers throughout history, and we are able to continue that tradition by recruiting some of the best young men and women Missouri has to offer.”
In the four to five years they spend in the program, cadets earn their college degrees in fields of their choosing while also completing specialized military training. Cadets spend two hours per week training in the leadership laboratory where they learn how to communicate effectively in a leadership role, develop their physical training, and enhance their knowledge of military customs and courtesies. In addition to the leadership laboratory, they participate in physical training three times a week and take special ROTC courses that will develop their understanding of the different aspects and functions of military leadership.
“The class of 2012 has our respect for their choices, our admiration for their commitment, and our deep gratitude for their willingness to confront dangers on the nation’s behalf in the months and years to come,” said Doherty in the commissioning ceremony.
Completing the program in not easy—cadets are expected to meet and exceed goals in three categories: physical fitness, academic performance, and leadership skill development. In the physical fitness category, Detachment 440 is currently ranked 10th out of 144 programs across the country, and it is ranked in the top 20 percent for their academic performance. In addition to excelling in these areas, the cadets have logged thousands of hours of community service, raised thousands of dollars for charitable organizations, and completed, on average, over 100 cadet events per semester.
While these accomplishments are impressive, the cadre wants to continue to improve the cadets’ performance and rankings.
“Our key goals for the future include having Detachment 440 consistently rank in the top 10 nationwide for both fitness and academic prowess, and to better integrate joint activities with the Army and Naval ROTC, including training events, physical fitness, and esprit de corps opportunities,” says Unger.
Rachel Drue, BA ’12, will serve as an air battle manager at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. She grew up around the military, and its camaraderie and the sense of a greater purpose called to her.
“My focus for the next few years is to become better at leading people, take advantage of the opportunities the Air Force provides, and to continue to further my education,” says Drue.
Drue says being a part of the AFROTC program set her apart from other college students because of what the program expected of her. The core values she learned—Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do—quickly became part of her daily lifestyle. These values prohibited her from doing things that regular college students tended to do on weekends, but she says it was okay.
“This program can actually be really fun,” says Drue. “Of course, the people are the best part. You learn who has your back in high-stress situations.”
She goes on to say that AFROTC is more than just a program. It is a place that creates leaders and gives them a quality job after graduating.
“ROTC sets students up for success,” says Drue. “It is the beginning to a career that is full of endless opportunities.”
Sean Sellers, BS ’12, served part-time in the Air National Guard while working toward his degree in Information Technology.
“I have always wanted to fly and I was so excited when I was accepted into the flight program through ROTC.” says Sellers. “I am very proud to have been through the program at MU and am thankful for the leadership experience I received.”
Sellers will begin pilot training in November 2012, and is currently working full-time at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas.
Doherty, who has been at MU since 2009, will retire from the Air Force next year. He says he can’t think of a better way to end his 23-year career than to be given the honor to put a thumbprint on the future of the Air Force.
“I am confident in the new officers that we have commissioned,” he says. “We’re not just training second lieutenants, we’re training our own replacements, and that is truly an amazing opportunity.”
By Laura Lindsey, College of Arts and Science
June 13, 2012