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Cadet Squadron 04 completes Cadet Service Learning at Ironman
Cadet 3rd Class Neil Corran provides security for the Ironman Triathlon in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, Oct. 9, 2010. Cadet Corran was one of 36 members of Cadet Squadron 04 who volunteered for the event as the squadron's Fall 2010 Cadet Service Learning project. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Raymond Hoy)
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Cadet Squadron 04 completes Cadet Service Learning at Ironman

Posted 10/15/2010   Updated 10/15/2010 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Raymond Hoy
Air Force Academy Public Affairs

10/15/2010 - KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii -- Cadets with the Air Force Academy's Cadet Squadron 04 completed their Cadet Service Learning project through serving as security guards during the Ironman World Championship triathlon Saturday.

Thirty-six cadets made the trip along with three of the squadron's leaders to complete the unit's project for the semester.

"Each squadron does a Cadet Service Learning project every semester, and it can be everything from serving in a soup kitchen to something like this," said Maj. Matthew Anderson, the air officer commanding for CS 04, the "Fightin' Fourth."

The idea came about when Maj. Scott Poteet, the AOC for CS 02, was selected to represent the Air Force at Ironman.

"Major Poteet told me in April that he had qualified for the Ironman Championship," Major Anderson said. "I told him I would really like to get my cadets out there to see some world-class athletes in action. I push fitness really hard with the cadets, so to expose them to some of the best athletes in the world is just invaluable."

Major Anderson, with Major Poteet's help, got in touch with the Ironman people and secured spots for his cadets to be a part of the event.

"They worked security in all the high-action areas of the race where the start, finish and transition points were," Major Anderson explained. "The head of security was confident, knowing their background as cadets, that he could put them in some of the more important locations and they would do exactly what was asked of them."

The timing behind the CSL event was perfect, said Cadet 2nd Class Timothy Reid.

"We just finished midterms, and that was a very stressful time," Cadet Reid said. "It was great to be able to come on this trip and not only volunteer for something really cool, but to be able to wind down in a place like Hawaii just doesn't get any better."

As Major Anderson discussed, the cadets have much higher PT standards than the rest of the Air Force. They had a chance to see some of the world's best athletes and see that those athletes weren't everything they expected.

"I was expecting these huge muscular guys to show up for this race, but it wasn't like that at all," said Cadet 1st Class Jimmy Leli. "It really showed me that it's as much about determination as it is fitness. We have some pretty high fitness standards at the Academy, and we complain about it, but it's nothing compared to what these people put themselves through.

"And some of them were in their 70s and 80s. It blew my mind to see these old people with grey hair coming across the finish line. It would be an accomplishment for me to do it, but to watch them do it was something else," Cadet Leli added.

But the trip wasn't all about the Ironman competition. The cadets flew to Hawaii on a C-17 Globemaster III and a KC-135 Stratotanker. The C-17 crew from the 446th Airlift Wing included a group of aeromedical evacuation trainees completing their qualification check rides. While en route, the cadets got an up-close-and-personal look at some jobs that may be in some of their futures.

"We have one EMT in the squadron and two med school hopefuls," Major Anderson explained. "It really motivates them to see what they may actually be doing after they graduate. And it also shows the hard work it takes to get to that point. And what's more important, they got to see the type of people they will lead after graduation and get a firsthand experience of what they go through on a day-to-day basis."

The cadets interested in the medical field took part in the medevac scenarios by playing the part of patients. Cadet Reid was administered an IV and went into "cardiac arrest" in the scenario.

"I've had a couple of IVs before, but this was the first time I actually got to see them do it," Cadet Reid said. "I was also involved in a scenario where they had to do chest compressions on me. It was great to get that hands-on experience that I haven't had a chance to be a part of."

The flying mission itself interested others. Cadet Leli has already secured a pilot slot once he graduates. He was on the C-17 flight deck to see the refueling mission firsthand.

"The best part of the trip for me was to witness the aerial refueling mission," he said. "I want to be a tanker pilot, so it was great to be able to see it in action. The pilots were able to talk me through what they were doing and how the aerial refueling works."

The trip was the brainchild of Major Anderson and took a lot of work to put together. But ultimately, he said he's happy with the end result and hopes to see more events like this in the future.

"It took months of planning to make this all happen and it all came together great," Major Anderson said. "The classroom is very important, but you can't substitute for something like this. The 97th Air Mobility Wing has a great partnership with the Academy and they continued that partnership with this mission. We can't thank them or the 446th Airlift Wing enough for giving us a lift and conducting the realistic training to give the cadets an idea of what the big Air Force is all about. It was a win-win for everyone involved."

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