NAVAL AIR STATION PENSACOLA, Florida --
More than 20 members of the 55th Wing supported the 479th Flying Training Group’s Undergraduate Combat Systems Officer Training Career Day here Nov. 18.
The 479th FTG organizes a career day every six months to help current CSO students make more informed decisions on what aircraft they would prefer to serve on after graduation from UCT.
A combined team of RC-135 crew members from across Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, supported the event as well as an EC-130 Compass Call crew from the 55th Electronic Combat Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.
The RC-135 crew consisted of Maj. Joe Quillin, 55th Operations Support Squadron and aircraft commander, 1st. Lt. Ryan Adams, 343rd Combat Training Squadron and co-pilot; navigators Capt. Robert Mashburn and Capt. Robert Stephensen of the 343rd CTS; electronic warfare officers 1st. Lt. John Lee, 1st. Lt. Katherine Meckler, 1st. Lt. Vadim Olshansky, 1st. Lt. Lee Ted San Nicolas and 1st. Lt. Luke Werner of the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron, and 1st. Lt. Nitin Prashar of the 38th Reconnaissance Squadron; and maintainers Staff Sgt. Luis Reyes and Airman 1st Class Clinton Wood of the 55th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
The EC-130 crew consisted of Capt. Brian Kapes, 43rd Electronic Combat Squadron and aircraft commander, co-pilots Capt. Lucas Derby, 755th Operations Support Squadron, Capt. Billy Mack, 43rd ECS, and 1st. Lt. Nicholas Espinoza, 55th ECG; navigators Capt. Joe FuQua, 55th ECG, and 1st. Lt. Alexander Furnival, 43rd ECS; flight engineer Staff Sgt. William Chavez, 43rd ECS; EWO 1st Lt. Kao Saeturn, 43rd ECS; and aircraft maintenance technician Tech. Sgt. Justin Longway, 42nd Electronic Combat Squadron.
In addition to the RC-135 and EC-130, eight other aircraft platforms available to navigators, EWOs and WSOs flew to NAS Pensacola from all over the country to participate in this day of mentorship.
Through a classroom brief and aircraft static displays, the 55th Wing crews educated more than 180 students and their families on opportunities available to them in the wing. They covered topics ranging from current missions and career opportunities to the different types of lifestyles between the Rivet Joint, Cobra Ball, Combat Sent, Open Skies and Constant Phoenix as well as the Compass Call.
The wide range of squadrons present from our wing proved vital to bolstering the CSO students’ knowledge.
“I knew about the RJ already, but I had no idea the 55th Wing had so many other assets available to me,” said one student who attended the event.
Another student said learning about the different RC-135 variants and getting to walk aboard the static aircraft was the, “highlight of [her] day.”
UCT instructors who attended the briefing also mentioned this was the first time they had seen all squadrons represented and available to the students at a career day.
“The career day was a great event and a great way to show young aviators a true ‘crew dog’ plane,” said Lt. Furnival. “Even if students do not come to the EC, our brief gives them an understanding of what our capabilities are and how much we can affect the current war. Having these students understand what we can do, will have major future impacts.”
“As CSO students grapple with making a significant life and career decision during training, the RC-135 community is and should always be there to provide students with much needed firsthand insight, professional mentorship and friendly advice to encourage our next generation to come make a difference at Offutt,” said Lt. Meckler.
"Having the Compass Call there drew great interest for the aircraft, the mission and our community,” said Lt Kao Saeturn. “This will provide excellent CSOs for the electronic combat group in the future.”
“By the end of the day, many students were overheard saying that they had bumped the RC-135 to their top aircraft choice,” said Lt. Werner.
The 55th Wing plans to continue supporting the CSO career days in the future as long as mission requirements allow them to do so.