Military service men and women have been an integral part of Troy’s beginnings as a university, and this week, Air Force men and women celebrated the beginnings of their military branch.
Troy University Air Force Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (AFROTC) Detachment 17 celebrated the 70th birthday of the Air Force on Monday, Sept. 18, on the social quad behind the Trojan Center.
To celebrate the birthday of the independent AFROTC, Detachment 17 on Troy’s campus invited students to share a piece of cake and learn about the history of the military branch.
“The Air Force is every bit as relevant today, I would say even more so, than it was 70 years ago,” said Air Force Maj. Gen. Walter D. Givhan, the senior vice chancellor for advancement and economic development at Troy University, who attended the ceremony.
“So, it’s important to celebrate this, and as we celebrate this, it’s important to remember those who made sacrifices—in some cases, ultimate sacrifice—to build this Air Force, to distinguish this air force in its operations and to keep it going to new frontiers,” Givhan said.
Cadet Capt. Rashawn Flowers, a junior social science major from Ozark, said that they also had a Prisoner of War and a Missing in Action remembrance on Monday.
“We had cadets that were standing at attention in silence,” Flowers said “These two (the anniversary of the Air Force and the remembrance) don’t correlate, but they’re done at the same time.”
Flowers’ flight group prepared posters with information on the history of AFROTC between 1947 and the 1960s.
The department chair for the aerospace studies, Lt. Col. Sheryl Deloughery, read Chancellor Jack Hawkins’ message in the opening ceremony, in which Hawkins expressed gratitude to the Air Force and mentioned Troy University’s connections with the Air Force.
“Our campus in Montgomery can trace its origin to the first operations at Maxwell Air Force Base, which began in the early 1960s,” the message read. “Through the years, approximately 35 Air Force bases have been the home of Troy teaching sites.
“Today, almost 70 Troy alumni serve as general flag ranks officers in the United States military, including over 30 United States Air Force officers.”
Troy University is one of the 145 colleges in the U.S. that station AFROTC detachments, or units, training cadets for the rank of second lieutenant.
According to cadet Lt. Col. Brad Gillie — a senior math major from Honolulu and maintenance officer — the recruitment of cadets, or trainees, is booming at Troy.
“We went from having 15 cadets within the past year to 40 last semester, to 70 this semester, so we’re ramping up pretty rapidly, and we’re going through an awesome opportunity for people to come and learn how to be a leader and teach you discipline and how to be professional; that’s what we teach,” Gillie said. “And whether you make it through or not, it gives you a lot of life lessons that you could use either way.”
Cadet Madeline Kirkpatrick, a senior exercise science major from Niceville, Florida, is soon to take on the air patrol duty.
“I have an air battle manager slot, actually,” Kirkpatrick said. “Basically, it’s like you’re monitoring the airspace in an airplane that has a radar on it, and this is just specifically the air battle manager, and then you have a role in assigning planes to go attack hostile aircraft, and you’re basically identifying all the aircraft in your space.”
Kirkpatrick said she wants to continue her training to get two other positions.
“I want to serve my country, obviously; I love America,” she said. “(In AFROTC) you get a lot of good leadership training, which is different.
“It gives me a sense of focus and purpose.”
Kirkpatrick said that AFROTC provides a family atmosphere and a tight-knit group.
“And then it’s also like a big family as well,” Kirkpatrick said. “Like, we, especially within the POC (Professional Officer Course), we all have to work together on a daily basis, so it’s a very cohesive unit.”