Spring 2017 Corps Review    |    Back

Air Force and Army cadets spend time at the American Veterans Conference in Washington, D.C.

American Veterans Conference
Air Force and Army cadets spend time at the American Veterans Conference in Washington, D.C.

By the fall 2016 Cadet Public Affairs Staff

Cadet Wing Adds Fall Training Exercise and Attends New Conferences


Detachment 875 had another fantastic semester. Never satisfied, however, the cadet wing looked for new ways to improve an already-strong program. Those included holding a fall Air Force Training Exercise (AFTX) for the first time and finding new conferences to attend.

Normally, one can expect a Warrior Day in the fall and a two-day AFTX in the spring. is year, AFTX moved to the fall to take advantage of better weather (the snow storm during the April 2016 event weighed heavily in this decision). Organizers had to ramp up preparations almost immediately and take into account that the freshmen weren’t even halfway through the year.

This year’s exercise was planned and organized by Cadet Nicholas Carroll ’17 and his staff. They constructed the best scenario in recent memory by pitting the wing’s cadet groups against each other. The first- and second-year cadets received better preparation thanks to the decision to place those who will be heading to summer field training in leadership positions.

Cadet Abby Houghtling ’19, a group commander for Group Two during the exercise, said, “I learned so much from the experience at AFTX, especially from the senior cadet leadership I got to be around most of the time in my role as a group commander.” 

AFTX wasn’t the only great thing from this semester as many cadets were able to take advantage of professional development opportunities away from Virginia Tech. Cadets attended three conferences, expanding their experiences and improving relations for the wing.

In September 2016, 11 cadets attended the Air Force Association convention in Washington, D.C. Each cadet could attend multiple panels from distinguished Air Force leaders. One of these panels was a speech from the Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. The part of his speech that stood out most to Cadet Fallon Fulgenzi ’18 was when Goldfein brought up a quote, “History may not repeat itself, but it sure rhymes a lot.” Looking to the past to solve current and future conflicts was an overarching theme in his speech, as well as those during the other panels at the convention.

In October 2016, the new Thomas C. Richards Squadron — a part of Arnold Air Society, a national professional honorary service organization in support of aerospace power — was chartered at Virginia Tech. Three of the founding members, Cadets Morgan Frazier ’17, Fulgenzi, and Brandon Tull ’18, attended their first area convention three days later. Despite the fact that the convention was held at the University of Virginia, it was a great time and an excellent learning experience.

Frazier, the squadron commander, said she was “excited to have the opportunity to meet cadets from other detachments, in addition to learning more about Arnold Air as a national organization.”

Our detachment looks forward to what this new organization will bring to our wing, and we encourage any alumni with ties to Arnold Air Society to reach out to the detachment.

In early November 2016, seven Air Force and seven Army cadets traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the American Veterans Conference. The panels included wounded warriors, World War II veterans, Pearl Harbor survivors, Medal of Honor recipients, and many other men and women who shared their inspiring stories of valor. Then Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, Gen. Peter Pace, and former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel were just some of the amazing speakers at the conference.

“The trip was life-changing, and the experiences I had were unforgettable,” said Cadet Grace Spencer ’18.

While networking at the conference, Cadet Matthew Cooper ’20 was able to get the group a personal tour of the guard quarters of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in addition to meeting one of the guards. The opportunities to learn about true service and sacrifice on this trip were tremendous. Our cadets learned valuable lessons and brought this knowledge and motivation back to our detachment. 

Cadet Walter Gonsiewski ’17

Walter Gonsiewski
Cadet Walter Gonsiewski ’17

Air Force Specialty Code Selections

Many cadets dream of becoming pilots when they join Air Force ROTC. However, few get the opportunity to be part of a selective pilot training route through the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT).

Detachment 875 is proud to recognize Cadet Walter Gonsiewski ’17 for being selected as a pilot candidate for this extremely competitive program. Only five cadets in the last four years from our detachment have been selected, and nationally fewer than 5 percent of pilot selectees are chosen.

In short, this program puts the pilot candidates on a fighter/bomber track through a process that includes the expected high tempo of flying and intense studies, but is unique that candidates from all over the world train together.

Gonsiewski said the other candidates “bring along with them tradition, culture, and different perspectives,” which he sees as a great motivation to compete for this program.

While the initial excitement and credit is well deserved for Gonsiewski, he emphasizes that this is just the beginning of the journey and that there is still preparation to do, including maintaining his fitness, getting more flying hours, and honing in on the studies. “This is an opportunity for me to work harder than I’ve ever worked before. It’s nice to take a step back, but never think it’s done,” he said.

Detachment 875 is proud that he has been recognized for his outstanding work with this selection and is excited to hear more about ENJJPT as he progresses through the program.