Community Engagement at Radford Highschool Career Day

  • Published
  • By Theresa Valadez
  • 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing

The 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing, with Airmen from the 19th Fighter Squadron, Hawaii National Guard and AFROTC Detachment 175 participated in Career Day at Radford High School on Oct. 27, 2023.

Four groups of 20 plus students rotated around the room to three different stations at the career day event. Each station focused on different career paths for the students, providing a look at high interest careers and to aid in recruitment efforts for the Air Force.

Maj. Koani Lau, 203rd Air Refueling Squadron, Hawaii Air National Guard started off the morning sharing his story with the students about how he was waiting tables in Hawaii and not sure what career path he wanted, until he saw a Go Air National Guard commercial and took an introductory flight. “I never thought about being a pilot or being in the Military, but I got hooked during that flight,” said Lau.

Lau wanted to correct a misconception, “How many think you need perfect vision to fly an aircraft?” (Almost all students raise their hands), “no you don’t, for me, I didn’t have perfect vision, so I’d like to squall that rumor all you need is vision corrected to 20/20.”

Capt. Christopher Loo, 19th Fighter Squadron focused his station on becoming a fighter pilot. He took the time to listen and answer the students’ questions, many wanted to share about their parent’s pilot careers, some worried about what it takes to become a pilot, while others simply listened to him describe the thrill of begin in the air. He gave the students one important piece of advice to get through flight school, “the instructors want to see you work hard and treat everyone with respect.” said Loo.

Tech Sgt. Devin Dailey, 515th AMOW, commander's action group member, brought a virtual reality display for the students to walk around and interact with a C-17 Globemaster III. “We can’t bring an aircraft to you, so we brought the next best thing,” said Dailey.

Capt. Spencer T. Jacobson, recruiting & education officer, AFROTC Detachment 175 for the University of Hawaii spoke about different education routes student can take to help their military career. “On the ROTC scholarship application, I want to see how you overcome a struggle in your life. Share how you persevered,” said Jacobson. One student summed it up well by saying, “Perseveration over perfection.” “Yes absolutely!” said Jacobson.

The last station was maned by Senior Master Sgt. Douglas Karaffa, 515th AMOW, commander's action group member, talked about taking the enlisted route, portraying options for students who feel college might not be the right fit. “Four years was my plan, but it turns out that I absolutely love what I do,” said Karaffa. Opportunities in the Air Force exist in all career fields and he went on to explain, “If you love to travel and see new places, meeting new people, the Air Force is great place.”

Col. Kyle A. Benwitz, 515th AMOW commander, reflected on the importance of spending time with the students at Radford High School. “The knowledge we shared today could be decisive in what career path they chose, and that in of itself is pretty awesome to witness,” said Benwitz. “Connecting with the students has rekindled my sense of purpose in the Air Force, giddy up!”