PORTLAND AIR NATIONAL GUARD
124 Fighter Wing
On 5 April 2012, I visited the Air National Guard base in Portland, Oregon, along with NCO MSgt. Cates, one other cadet from Oregon State’s Detachment 685, and one cadet from the University of Portland’s Detachment 695. The personnel were very friendly and excited to have us there. We met with many officers eager to show us around, tell us about their careers, and give advice to future leaders in the USAF. My favorite aspect of the visit was the invaluable insight I received from speaking with and asking questions of the officers giving us the tour. There were quite a few items on the itinerary, and we were unable to do all the things I was really looking forward to, but the experience was nonetheless extraordinary.
First, we were greeted by Major Rice, a former Harrier pilot in the Marine Corps. He recently completed his conversion training to the F-15, and he briefed us on being a pilot in the 142 nd Fighter Wing. After telling us the basic ins and outs, introducing us to the gear, and showing us a video of a firing exercise, we asked questions and received information about the track to becoming a pilot.
Next, we met Major Kroeller, an intelligence officer. His briefing showcased the various ways intelligence assists the warfighter, how intelligence-sharing has evolved. He also touched on the perks of being an intelligence officer.
Following, we met with Lt3 Col Harris, a maintenance officer. He started by explaining what it means to be a maintenance officer, putting emphasis on what makes a good one, what skills can increase one’s aptitude and the nature of the job. Afterwards, we went down to look at the F-15s undergoing maintenance, and all the while we were listening to Lt Col Harris. I felt we really got to know the nature of what an aircraft is and its purpose.
Our final stop was the aircraft munitions building. We were shown and given information on an array of missiles, including the most advanced heat-seeking sidewinder, as well as the 20mm gun that is in the F-15 (missile cases, bullet-loading gear, infrared cameras, etc. but nothing live).We may have been too late to witness the five F-15s that launched earlier in the day and we may have missed the F-15 that we all could have sat in, and we did not have enough time to meet with security forces, but there is only so much that can be shown in a few hours. The men and women of the 142 nd Fighter Wing created a very inviting and comfortable setting to learn more about the jobs we could have ourselves. After visiting their base, I feel much more informed about what I may put down on my list of preferred AFSCs.