Shaw hosts cadets for Operation Air Force Published June 13, 2017 By Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- U.S. Air Force Academy cadets are visiting Team Shaw as part of the Operation Air Force program, June 6 to 21. As part of the program, cadets get a first-hand look at how support and operational functions at 9th Air Force, the 20th Fighter Wing and the Office of Special Investigations Detachment 212 operate. All academy cadets are required to participate in the program the summer prior to their junior year, visiting one of many bases. It is planned during this time because they must decide at the beginning of the next semester whether or not to commit to the Air Force and a specific career for the next seven years. During the visit, cadets are scheduled to see and work with a variety of career fields. This introduces them to the fields they are interested in so they can determine if it is what they want to pursue. They also learn about areas they may not have considered, said Maj. Rita Sircar-Valdez, 20th Medical Operations Squadron physical therapy flight commander. Capt. Kyle Rasmussen, 55th Fighter Squadron F-16CM Fighting Falcon pilot and academy graduate, has been assisting with the visit. “They’re looking to find out what they want to do and it’s awesome to give them the information and help motivate them,” said Rasmussen. “They don’t have the pleasure of seeing all of the (Air Force Specialty Codes) in the Air Force at the academy. The academy isn’t an operational base, so they don’t see all the jobs until they come to a scenario like this and get the exposure. It may help steer them into choosing the path that is best for them and best for the Air Force.” Cadets also speak with leaders, both officer and enlisted, to gain insight into leadership styles and communication between the ranks. “Throughout that entire time, especially the informal mentorship from different ranks and different AFSCs, you get a lot of different perspectives that you get to mold into your own leadership style,” said 2nd Lt. Emonna Knox, 20th Component Maintenance Squadron propulsion flight commander and academy graduate. “You take what you like and apply that to yourself. That was a huge building tool.” As the cadets prepare to make a life-altering decision, Airmen from across the installation are doing their part to ensure the cadets receive as much information as they can about available career paths and the Air Force lifestyle. A second group of cadets is scheduled to visit the base at the end of June.