Camp March: base provides hands-on training and speakers

CLASSROOM WISH LIST: “If this was your classroom desk, would you ever be late to class?” Lt. Col. Kelly McPeters asks students as they rotate through the practice cockpit inside the Aero Club office. (U.S. Air Force photo by Megan Just)

CLASSROOM WISH LIST: “If this was your classroom desk, would you ever be late to class?” Lt. Col. Kelly McPeters asks students as they rotate through the practice cockpit inside the Aero Club office. (U.S. Air Force photo by Megan Just)

SELF INSPECTION: Junior ROTC Cadet Airman 1st Class Randy Larin adjusts the rank of fellow cadet Alex Lazo before their graduation ceremony at the Cultural Resource Center on base. Both students are incoming sophomores at Rancho Verde High School in Moreno Valley, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David K. Flaherty)

SELF INSPECTION: Junior ROTC Cadet Airman 1st Class Randy Larin adjusts the rank of fellow cadet Alex Lazo before their graduation ceremony at the Cultural Resource Center on base. Both students are incoming sophomores at Rancho Verde High School in Moreno Valley, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David K. Flaherty)

Bob Pearce conducts mini-ground school with JROTC cadets during their afternoon at the Aero Club on June 26. Each student had about five minutes in the cockpit of one of the Aero Club’s planes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Megan Just)

Bob Pearce conducts mini-ground school with JROTC cadets during their afternoon at the Aero Club on June 26. Each student had about five minutes in the cockpit of one of the Aero Club’s planes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Megan Just)

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, CALIF. -- Over 100 JROTC cadets participated in a duo of two-week leadership sessions at March ARB during the last half of June. The goal of the leadership camps was to teach the cadets to be good citizens and to develop leadership skills. The adult leaders, mostly ROTC instructors from area high schools and members of the Reserve Officers Association, depend on the lectures and hands-on training from March ARB to imprint the cadets with the values of the U.S. Air Force. 

The cadets toured March's Aero Club on Friday, June 26, to learn about the club's flight training program and to explore the club's airplanes. Aero Club instructors gave the students mini-ground school lessons as they took turns sitting in the cockpits of two of the planes. 

Of the many activities the cadets experienced during their time at March, the C-17 orientation flight was the unanimous favorite. "It was my first time in an actual plane going airborne," said Arlington High School senior Dean Homeshur. 

Homeshur was among many cadets who had never flown on an aircraft of any type, including commercial airliners. The C-17 flew the students around San Diego and back. During the trip, the students enjoyed peeking out of the cockpit windows to see the views below.

"I made a mistake by saying 'that's not supposed to happen,' and some girl started crying," Matt Keels said, recalling his experience on the C-17. Keels is a senior at Arlington High School who recently enlisted in the Army. "I've already been promoted to an E-3," he said. Keels joined JROTC several years ago, knowing that JROTC would help him in his future military career. 

Grant Autry, a Palm Springs High School graduate, just accepted a full-ride Army ROTC college scholarship. "I joined [JROTC] my freshman year because I wanted to be a military officer after college and I figured JROTC would be the best way to achieve the goal," he said. JROTC has helped Autry learn leadership skills, specifically, the ability to organize spur-of-the-moment activities. 

Amanda Luke, the Yucaipa High School Cadet Squadron Commander, joined JROTC for a different reason. "I wasn't hanging out with the best group and thought it would be a good way for a change," she said. Luke says JROTC has taught her that she can be part of something that is bigger than an individual. 

The first wave of JROTC cadets, students from Arlington and Rancho Verde High Schools, graduated from Summer Leadership Session in a ceremony June 26 at the Cultural Center. The second wave of JROTC cadets, students from Arlington, Palm Springs, and Yucaipa High Schools, graduated June 30.