RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --
“We’re the basic training for a cadet,” said Maj. Michael Livesay, Ramstein Civil Air Patrol squadron commander. “It’s a one-week learning laboratory for them. We’ve had the opportunity to get perspectives from enlisted members and officers to talk to them about what it takes to become a leader in the Air Force.”
The CAP cadets met with Airmen and civilians from all over Ramstein, starting with a briefing from Brig. Gen. Jon T. Thomas, 86th Airlift Wing commander, about the importance of the Ramstein mission. They also visited several agencies throughout Ramstein, including a tour on a C-17A Globemaster III with the 721st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
How much of a base is shown to CAP cadets can vary from base to base.
“It depends on how great of a relationship they have with their host squadrons,” said Livesay. “Here at the 86th, we have an outstanding relationship. We couldn’t be more pleased with the support we’ve gotten to make this encampment such a success. Team Ramstein has pulled all three wings together to make this happen, and it is awesome to see.”
When the cadets visited the 721st AMXS, they received an hour-long presentation about leadership and how the squadron’s mission affects the overall Air Force mission. They also entered a C-17A Globemaster III aircraft, looked at the inside of the plane and had the opportunity to sit in the pilot seat.
“It was a good time hanging out with them, getting to show them everything and give them experience,” said Master Sgt. Brad Secord, 721st AMXS aircraft flight support superintendent. “We got them on an airplane and filled their eyes with wonderment of what it’s like to work on an airplane that completes missions day in and day out. It brings me back to when I was younger and I first started.”
The CAP squadron commanders wanted to show the cadets the wide variety of jobs available in the Air Force, some they may have not even realized were available.
“I think CAP is important,” said Capt. Erin Wood, 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron flight nurse. “That way they’re exposed a little bit to the military and can see all the different things. The Air Force is more than pilots; there are so many different jobs out there. Then they can make a more informed decision, and the more information they have, the better.”
While the main focus of the encampment’s tour at Ramstein was to emphasize leadership and show what life is like for a typical Airman, the program also offers structure and guidance for the cadets.
“They were very disciplined, which is a good thing for young kids,” said Secord. “It seemed like the team has a very good bunch of cadets and they were very in-tuned to it. I think that structure is good at a young age.”
Another aspect of the tour included speaking with civilians, to show the cadets what they learn during the time in the program can be applied to more than only the military.
“We also open up to business and civic leaders, because a leader isn’t just [in the] military,” said Livesay. “You can be a leader anywhere in the world, at any time and that’s what we want our kids to know. The lessons in leadership that we teach through this program can take them well beyond the military.”
For cadets, the CAP program offers the opportunity to test the waters and see if the military lifestyle is one they would enjoy. What brings them to the program varies from cadet to cadet.
The CAP squadron leaders enjoy having the opportunity to shape and mold the future generation, regardless of what route they choose to take.
“Whether it’s military, business, or civic, that’s our next generation,” said Livesay. “They’re the guys we pass the torch off to, and if I had the opportunity to teach them what I know of leadership, I can sit back in my easy chair, when I’m old and grey, and feel comfortable. I feel like I’ve made an impact on these kids.”
CAP provides a unique opportunity for youth to experience life in military, teaching discipline and leadership to the next generation of possible Airmen.