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USAFA cadets experience Schriever mission


Col. Jennifer Grant, commander of the 50th Space Wing, meets with U.S. Air Force Academy cadets at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, July 26, 2018. More than 50 USAFA cadets visited Schriever AFB as part of the Operation Air Force program. (Courtesy photo)


United States Air Force Academy cadets don combat gear at the 50th Logistics Readiness Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, June 7, 2018. Operation Air Force is a graduation requirement for cadets and Schriever AFB is one of the 60 continental United States bases working with USAFA to make this program successful. (Courtesy photo)


Throughout June and July, more than 50 United States Air Force Academy cadets traveled down the road to visit Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, as part of the Operation Air Force program.

Operation Air Force is a requirement for graduation and Schriever AFB is one of the 60 continental United States bases working with USAFA to make this program successful.

During the two-and-a-half week long program, the cadets also visited other Front Range installations.

Operation Air Force gave USAFA cadets the opportunity to immerse themselves in Air Force culture, explore career options and learn how base units work together to achieve the 50th Space Wing mission. During the visit, the cadets toured several units and gained an understanding of how they all fit together.

Some of these units included the 4th Space Operations Squadron, 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron, 22nd Space Operations Squadron, 50th Force Support Squadron, 50th Security Forces Squadron and 527th Space Aggressors Squadron.

Capt. Archie Johnson, assistant director of operations with the 1st Space Operations Squadron, and 1st Lt. Madeline Midas, course manager for the 50th Operations Support Squadron, served as base directors for the program.

“As base directors, we arranged the planning for and execution of their day-to-day schedules and made sure to provide as robust of an experience to the cadets as possible,” Johnson said.  “Our job was to tailor the experience based on what Schriever AFB had to offer. Not only did we have to coordinate, plan and execute, but we also became their supervisors for the period; we had to make sure they maintained their standards while away from the USAFA.

“While at Schriever AFB, the cadets were exposed to the 50th Operation Group’s unique space and cyberspace missions,” he continued. “We provided them with a high level summary of almost all of the units within the 50th SW. Their days consisted of in-briefs with wing, group and squadron level leaders, as well as mentoring sessions with base leadership.”

Midas said she was glad to play a role in helping to prepare the Air Force’s next generation of officers.


“As a USAFA graduate myself, being a part of these visits was a great experience,” she said. “Our goal was to give the cadets an overall understanding of the mission sets here and specifically the 13S Air Force Specialty Code. Upon commencement of the visits, cadets had little to no knowledge of the space career field. Toward the end of their stay; however, we could see they had developed more of an interest in what it entails.” 

The cadets shared their experiences at Schriever AFB were educational and eye-opening.

“Being a geospatial science major at the Air Force Academy, my visit to Schriever AFB was probably one of my favorites,” said Cadet 2nd Class Emily Roeder. “Though we only had two days to tour the entire base, I thoroughly enjoyed my time here.

“One of the coolest parts of the trip was meeting all of the USAFA graduates,” she continued. “We appreciated the opportunity to meet with Col. Jennifer Grant, commander of the 50th SW, who was also a USAFA graduate. It was neat seeing how officers, who were once just cadets like us, are doing amazing things in the Air Force. I hope I will be able to visit Schriever again in the near future.”

Johnson also took notice of how much the cadets enjoyed their experience.

“I honestly feel that the cadets came here with one impression of the 50th SW and walked away with a completely different appreciation for what we do here,” he said. “The feedback from not only the mission aspect, but the personnel engagement aspect was glowing. They spoke highly of their conversations with Col. Grant as well as the other mentoring sessions with the Company Grade Officer and Top 3 Councils. They appreciated all the leadership lessons from our Schriever Airmen.”

Midas agreed the cadets had a valuable experience while at Schriever AFB. 


“It was tremendous to see so many of our Schriever AFB members mentor and help develop the cadets,” she said. “I think they thoroughly enjoyed their time here. Most of them didn’t realize we are right down the street from them, which is why this was such a fantastic opportunity for them not only to learn about the mission we do, but also make new and meaningful connections.”

Year after year, Operation Air Force continues to introduce cadets to complex mission sets and in turn, shape and develop future leaders of the U.S. Air Force.  

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