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Cadets get a feel for operational Air Force at Scott

Cadets from the Air Force Academy toured and flew on a C-40 for part of the Air Force Operations program June 8, 2015 at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. The cadets toured Scott from June 2 to 17 to gain exposure to what a real-world Air Force base environment is like. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl)

Cadets from the Air Force Academy toured and flew on a C-40 for part of the Air Force Operations program June 8, 2015 at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. The cadets toured Scott from June 2 to 17 to gain exposure to what a real-world Air Force base environment is like. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl)

Cadet 2nd Class Kirsten Mattson sits in the cockpit of a C-40 June 8, 2015, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Mattson was one of 10 Air Force Academy cadets who visited Scott to learn more about the variety of career fields in the Air Force. Mattson is a rising junior at the Air Force Academy. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl)

Cadet 2nd Class Kirsten Mattson sits in the cockpit of a C-40 June 8, 2015, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Mattson was one of 10 Air Force Academy cadets who visited Scott to learn more about the variety of career fields in the Air Force. Mattson is a rising junior at the Air Force Academy. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl)

Air Force Academy cadets go into a C-40 June 8, 2015, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. The cadets rode in a C-40 to experience the flight and learn from the C-40 pilots. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl)

Air Force Academy cadets go into a C-40 June 8, 2015, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. The cadets rode in a C-40 to experience the flight and learn from the C-40 pilots. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl)

Maj. Jonathan Lauer talks to cadets onboard a C-40 June 8, 2015, flying from Scott Air Force Base, Illinois to the St. Louis, Missouri area. Lauer informed Air Force Academy cadets about the aircraft and answered any of their questions. Lauer is a 54th Airlift Squadron C-40 Pilot. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl)

Maj. Jonathan Lauer talks to cadets onboard a C-40 June 8, 2015, flying from Scott Air Force Base, Illinois to the St. Louis, Missouri area. Lauer informed Air Force Academy cadets about the aircraft and answered any of their questions. Lauer is a 54th Airlift Squadron C-40 Pilot. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl)

Maj. Jonathan Lauer shows the cadets the exterior of a C-40 and explains to them how to do a pre- flight check June 8, 2015 at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. The cadets were from the Air Force Academy learning a new perspective from officers. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl)

Maj. Jonathan Lauer shows the cadets the exterior of a C-40 and explains to them how to do a pre- flight check June 8, 2015 at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. The cadets were from the Air Force Academy learning a new perspective from officers. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl)

Eleven Air Force Academy cadets rode in a C-40 June 8, 2015 around the local area around Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. The cadets learned more about the aircraft and its functions during the trip from Scott to the St. Louis, Missouri area.  (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl)

Eleven Air Force Academy cadets rode in a C-40 June 8, 2015 around the local area around Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. The cadets learned more about the aircraft and its functions during the trip from Scott to the St. Louis, Missouri area. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl)

Air Force Academy cadets look at the parts of a C-40 June 8, 2015, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. The cadets learned more about the aircraft and its functions during the trip from Scott to the St. Louis, Missouri area. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl)

Air Force Academy cadets look at the parts of a C-40 June 8, 2015, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. The cadets learned more about the aircraft and its functions during the trip from Scott to the St. Louis, Missouri area. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl)

Maj. Jonathan Lauer talks to cadets after flying on a C-40 June 8, 2015, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Lauer informed Air Force Academy cadets about the normal procedures done after a flight. Lauer is a 54th Airlift Squadron C-40 Pilot. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl)

Maj. Jonathan Lauer talks to cadets after flying on a C-40 June 8, 2015, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Lauer informed Air Force Academy cadets about the normal procedures done after a flight. Lauer is a 54th Airlift Squadron C-40 Pilot. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl)

Maj. Jonathan Lauer talks to cadets outside a C-40 June 8, 2015, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Lauer informed the Air Force Academy cadets about the aircraft and answered any of their questions. Lauer is a 54th Airlift Squadron C-40 Pilot. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl)

Maj. Jonathan Lauer talks to cadets outside a C-40 June 8, 2015, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Lauer informed the Air Force Academy cadets about the aircraft and answered any of their questions. Lauer is a 54th Airlift Squadron C-40 Pilot. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- United States Air Force Academy and ROTC cadets got a taste of what it's going to be like in the operational Air Force June 2-17 at Scott.

The Air Force Operations Program is for cadets to get exposure to a real-world Air Force base environment while letting them see how base components work together to achieve the mission.

First Lt. Jonathan Davis, 375th Force Support Squadron Readiness Officer in Charge, and Maj. Jonathan Lauer, 54th Airlift Squadron C-40 Pilot, are both base directors who organized the operations experience for the cadets.

"This program is cited by a majority of attending cadets as contributing greatly to their decisions about which career field to pursue," said Davis.

The cadets visited the 375th Security Forces Squadron and some even experienced what it would feel like to be tazed and bitten by the military working dogs in protective suits. They also visited the 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center, the 375th Contracting Squadron, the 375th Operations Group, the 375th Medical Group, the 375th Logistics Readiness Squadron, the 375th Force Support Squadron, the 375th Communications Group, attended changes of command, received mentoring from leaders, and were paired up with base company grade officers.

Part of the Air Force Operations Program was to take a ride on aircraft from Scott. The Academy cadets experienced flying on a C-40 around the St. Louis area. The ROTC cadets flew in a KC-135 and witnessed a refueling of an F-22 near Florida.

"It was really cool to fly on a C-40," said Cadet 2nd Class Kirsten Mattson, a rising junior Academy student. "It's interesting to see the perspectives from people that have been on this aircraft frequently."

The purpose of the program is to enhance understanding of how operations and support functions work together to accomplish a wing's mission. They are exposed to a variety of career fields to aid them in future career decisions. It enables the cadets to interact with senior noncommissioned officers, Department of Defense civilians, Field Grade Officers and CGOs, and better understand their role as a future second lieutenant.

Maj. Jonathan Lauer said, "I think the cadets gain a better and clearer picture of what the Air Force is going to be after going through this program."

Davis recalls when he was a cadet, and said, "As an USAFA cadet I thought the experience was eye opening. The Air Force is completely different than schooling. The responsibility of the unit falls on my shoulders in the AF and accomplishing the unit functions make the Air Force succeed every day. The operations program made me realize how important the Air Force is to the world. After visiting my operational Air Force base, I wanted nothing more than to join this great service."