Henley JROTC cadets get close up tour of Travis Air Force Base

Curriculum-in-Action trip provides a hands-on chance to learn at an active military base

Eighteen Henley High School Air Force Junior ROTC cadets spent two days last month at Travis Air Force Base, learning about career opportunities and visiting with Air Force personnel as part of the program’s “Curriculum in Action” (CIA) trip.

Henley High School JRTOC cadet Sebastian Fuller trying on firefighter gear at Travis Air Force Base.

CIA trips directly support the Air Force JROTC curriculum, which includes the study of aviation history, the science of flight, leadership principles, and survival. Cadets also get to see aircraft and directly talk with various Air Force personnel.

Henley’s Junior ROTC program is operated by retired Air Force Lt. Col. Jason Budnick and TSgt David Kelley. Both are aerospace science instructors. In addition to visits to Kingsley Field, Henley’s program takes sophomores and seniors on a two- to three-day trip to an active duty Air Force base and museum each year, Budnick said. Last year, cadets traveled to Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Wash., and visited the Seattle Museum of Flight.

Henley High School JRTOC cadet Lois Cardenas in front of the tire of a KC-10 refueler at Travis Air Force Base.

The Henley students were able to visit Travis Air Force Base during JROTC day, and they were able to walk through three active Air Force aircraft (C-17, C-5, and the KC-10). They also visited the Travis AFB Heritage Center to see historical aircraft and learn about the military heritage of the base and local area. The base is near Fairfield, Calif., east of Sacramento.

“They had the opportunity to talk with various Air Force personnel and explore career areas like medical, emergency services, logistics and support, and operations,” Budnick said. “They also got a peek into the daily life of an airmen by eating in the base dining facility and seeing a dorm room. These trips are also a good opportunity for them to meet with other Junior ROTC cadets (as well as for us as instructors to talk with other Air Force JROTC instructors).”

Henley senior Kira Driscoll joined the school’s Air Force Junior ROTC program as a freshman because she was interested in astronomy. Today she is the cadet wing commander and helps oversee the program and manage its 62 student cadets. Not all JROTC cadets pursue a career in the military. Driscoll is considering studying art and psychology after high school but said her experience in JROTC has developed her management and people skills.

“I joined for the academics, but really fell in love with the family atmosphere of the program,” she said. “For me, it’s really helped a lot. I used to be a passive and shy person, and it’s taught me to be more assertive.”

The mission of Air Force Junior ROTC is to “develop citizens of character dedicated to serving their nation and community,” according to its website. JROTC is not an Air Force accession program and cadets are never under
any obligation to join the military. The program is designed to educate and train high school cadets in citizenship, promote community service, and instill personal responsibility, character, and self-discipline.

Uniforms, textbooks, training aids and a substantial portion of instructors’ salaries are provided by the military. The programs, run through the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, are taught as elective courses at more than 3,000 high schools nationwide.

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