YOUNGSTOWN AIR RESERVE STATION, Ohio --
Twenty-seven Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets attended a five-day leadership development camp June 20-24, here. During their stay at YARS, the cadets were introduced to a highly regimented lifestyle imitating that of Basic Military Training while learning what it takes to become a leader and a wingman.
The encampment, which has been an annual tradition since 1997, was run by 17 JROTC instructors this year consisting primarily of Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 910th Airlift Wing but also included a soldier and a Marine. While there, the cadets received instruction on leadership, teamwork and mentorship. This included a visit from guest speaker 2nd Lt. Nevan McCann, a recent Air Force Academy graduate, who shared his own experiences and what to expect for those interested in study at the academy.
McCann said the one thing above all he took away from the academy is the concept of wingmanship.
“That’s the thing they press the most, taking care of your people,” said McCann. “That’s the biggest thing when you’re in a leadership position, you got to take care of your people so they can do their jobs. So watch each other’s back and look out for one another.”
The cadets were constantly challenged on those lessons throughout the week, which concluded in an obstacle course that had to be completed as a team.
Of the original 27 JROTC cadets, 24 graduated from the encampment on June 24 at the Community Activities Center, here. The graduation was bittersweet for the instructors as it was revealed that one of their own, Master Sgt. Jose Rivera, the operations sergeant for the 910th Security Forces Squadron (SFS) and the JROTC encampment’s noncommissioned officer-in-charge, would be watching his final graduating class of cadets accept their certificates of completion and dog tags. Rivera, a prior army drill sergeant, was presented with a drill sergeant hat in thanks for his years of service, diligence and leadership to the JROTC program and to YARS.
In his closing statements Rivera said, “The honor has always been mine.”
Rivera has been involved in the program since 2009 and is passing the torch to Master Sgt. Justin Watson, a 910th Security Forces Craftsman.
After the ceremony, the cadets exchanged phone numbers and reflected on what they achieved throughout the week.
Troy Brent Wimbs II, a senior in high school and two-time graduate from the leadership camp, said the hardest part is the mental factor.
“Learning your pamphlet and getting to know your cadets is definitely the hardest part, said Wimbs. “But I can confidently say after these five days I know each and every one of them. It was challenging, yes, but it has a huge pay off. You make a lot of lasting friendships here.”
Wimbs said he plans to either join the Air Force or pursue higher education at Ohio State University.