By Maj. George Worrall III, 103rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 25, 2008
BRADLEY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, East Granby, Conn. -- High school students from across Connecticut visited Bradley Air National Guard Base May 8 and 9 to learn more about opportunities, technology and career fields in the state.
While showers dampened the activities periodically, 507 students from 21 schools toured Connecticut National Guard transport aircraft and helicopters, engine maintenance and high technology equipment displays.
"I like it, a lot of cool stuff here ... I didn't know Connecticut had all this," said Derick Ware, senior, Ellington High School, Ellington. "I found the little trucks [known as tugs] you use to pull the aircraft and the Blackhawk helicopters themselves most interesting."
Students were able to learn from many informative and interactive displays including: information technology, fire rescue, military working dogs, combat arms training, jet engine repair, and aircraft ground equipment.
"We learned about a lot of the career fields we can go into when we leave high school ...I thought it was a very good experience," said Kyle Davoli, junior, Platt Technical High School, Milford. "I liked the computers and all the high tech ... what they do [air operations center systems] is pretty amazing."
In the middle of each day, Connecticut Army and Air National Guard members conducted a force-on-force exercise complete with automatic weapons firing blanks.
"I thought the combat scenario was surprising... I did not think they could even do it [fire blanks] with visitors here," said James Fay, junior, Platt Technical High School, Milford. "In the movies everything looks perfect and the sound is fake but in real life it is something [impressive]."
While the students were surprised by what they saw, military members were impressed with many of the students knowledge and maturity.
"One student said he has his rad [radiation] detector at home and had a great deal of knowledge, he will be an asset to the state DEP or maybe us someday," said Master Sgt. Kurt W. Smith, recon NCOIC, 14th Civil Support Team. "Some of this stuff is a little overwhelming since we bring a lot of pretty sophisticated gear here."
"I love seeing the enthusiasm from the students for what we do at the Guard, it is refreshing to see and hear," said Capt. Walter R. Levantovich, C-21 pilot, 118th Airlift Squadron, who gave tours of the wing's aircraft.
Connecticut state colleges and universities were also invited to attend, and representatives from Asnuntuck Community College, the Stratford School for Aviation Maintenance Technicians, and Air Force ROTC set up display tables among the National Guard displays. On May 8, students were able to see National Guard racing's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car #88 and pose for photographs with the car; which looks exactly like the one driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the series.
Creating an impression with high school students was the plan for the two-day career fair and it took the efforts of hundreds of Connecticut National Guard members to plan, organize and execute the event. Once the students arrived though, it was up to the flight chiefs assigned to each group of students to ensure the visit went smoothly.
"Organization and getting a lot of support from all areas of the base who got the word out for people to participate in the event was the key to our success today," said 1st Lt. Douglas P. Scheirey, personnel officer, 103rd Mission Support Flight, who organized the flight chiefs for the two days.
Faculty from the various Connecticut schools who escorted the students for the first time also had an opportunity for learning along with their students.
"I thought today was pretty fascinating," said Jeffery Denote, carpentry instructor, Oliver Wolcott Technical High School, Torrington, who visited for the first time with a group of students. "A lot of my kids right now are on the fence about what they are going to do,
many want to go to college but they can't afford to, so to get training and full-time work [in the Connecticut National Guard] while they go to school is a real option."
"Our students had a great experience at the base [May 8]. They came in to school this morning [May 9] still raving about it," said Julie Bragg, school counselor, Granby Memorial High School, Granby, in an e-mail. "We felt that the program was highly structured, organized, and very interactive. Most importantly, I think it was helpful for our students to see so many successful people who have pursued both the military and higher education."
Connecticut high schools from across the state visited, including: A.I. Prince Technical High School, Hartford; Bristol Technical Education Center, Bristol; Bullard Havens Technical High School, Bridgeport; East Granby High School, East Granby; East Windsor High School, East Windsor; E.C. Goodwin Technical High School, New Britain; Ellington High School, Ellington; Emmett O'Brien Technical High School, Ansonia; Granby High School, Granby; H.C. Wilcox Technical High School, Meriden; H.H. Ellis Technical High School, Danielson; J.M. Wright Technical High School, Stamford; Manchester High, Manchester; New Britain High School, New Britain; Oliver Wolcott Technical High School, Torrington; Platt Technical High School, Milford; Torrington High JrROTC, Torrington.