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Air Force training equips UM ROTC for survival

By Chris Daniels
On October 12, 2011

  • Senior Altrese Hawkins ended her college career with the most career kills in University of Memphis history. Photo By Lance Murphey | U of M Athletic Media Relations

Rescuing a downed pilot, surviving a mid-air evacuation and the contents of an Air Force survival vest were the topics of yesterday's University of Memphis Air Force Reserve Officer's Training Corps leadership lab.

"These hundred cadets get to see what military life is like," said Lt. Col. Jacqueline Randolph. "I want to build officers."

Every Tuesday at 1 p.m. the Air Force ROTC meets for a leadership lab that gives cadets the opportunity to gain actual military experience.

The focus of yesterday's leadership lab was combat survival. The Air National Guard showcased how to start a fire using special tools, inflate a life-vest and how to operate a parachute.

"They come out here to learn from people who have been in these types of situations and hear their stories," Randolph said.

Cadet Caleb Johnson, senior civil engineering major, said these labs give students a break from their traditional classroom environment.

"We get the basics of military training," Johnson said. "We're learning leadership skills and practicing team building on how to be a leader and a good follower."

Second Lt. Jessica Toma graduated in May, but attended yesterday's event to help the younger cadets gain a better understanding of what they will be doing in their daily Air Force life.

"It gives everybody a taste of the responsibilities they will have, and the different materials they will be using," she said. "They just see a classroom and march around campus. With these labs, they get to see what they're working towards."

Toma is waiting for active duty as a flight commander in Cheyenne, Wyo. where she will be taking charge of a group of airmen to make sure they get their jobs done properly.

Air Force ROTC also does volunteer work every Saturday. Some of their community services include meals on wheels, tutoring at Raleigh-Egypt High School and feeding the homeless at St. Mary's Catholic Church.

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