Second Air Force kicks off Pathways to Blue 2024

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Devyn Waits
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

Second Air Force held its annual Pathways to Blue event, giving Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets from across the southeast United States an introductory view into the Air Force here, March 22 – 23.

Pathways to Blue showcases 36 officer career fields and mentorship opportunities to afford an informative, immersive experience in different Air Force and Space Force professions.

Representatives from the United States Space Force, 17th Training Wing, 37th Training Wing, 81st Training Wing, 85th Engineering Installation Squadron, 82nd Training Wing, Special Warfare Training Wing, Air Force Special Operations Command, Columbus Air Force Base, Vance Air Force Base, Holloman Air Force Base, Kirtland Air Force Base, Eglin Air Force Base, Air Force Research Laboratory and Naval Air Station Pensacola came together to offer mentoring sessions, providing a hub of information for attendees to learn about 36 Air Force Specialty Codes and their daily operations.

Attendees consisted of 163 cadets from 14 schools including Louisiana Tech University, Samford University, Mississippi State University and Jackson State University, cultivating an atmosphere of diversity.

“Our enemies are evolving their tactics to increasingly gain a foothold in the growing domains of space, cyber and information warfare,” said Maj. Gen. Michele Edmondson, Second Air Force commander. “To sustain our advantage, we must continue to bring great talent and expertise into the force as we transform to prepare for the future fight.”

Edmondson, Col. Jason Allen, 81st TRW deputy commander, Col. Edward Irick, SWTW deputy commander, Col. Joshua Jackson, 58th SOW deputy commander and key senior leaders from the AETC and AFROTC staffs commenced Pathways to Blue with opening remarks before the cadets embarked to different units for hands-on demonstrations throughout Keesler.

During the two-day event, they engaged in a host of activities as they watched staff practice emergency medical procedures, tested simulators, engrossed themselves in the world of virtual reality at the Weather Training Complex and learned in-depth knowledge through mentorship sessions at the Roberts Maintenance Facility Auditorium. Additionally, the cadets, some who’ve never flown before, explored T-6A static display from 33rd Flying Training Squadron from the 71st Flying Training Wing before soaring the skies in a TH-1H from the 23rd Flying Training Squadron, a WC-130J Hercules from the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron and C-130J Hercules from the 815th Airlift Squadron assigned to the 403rd Wing, and a C-17 from the 512th Airlift Wing.

“Coming here was a great experience because I got to see many different aspects about the Air Force up close,” said Kayla Fox, Louisiana Tech University ROTC cadet. “My favorite part of the event was the career fair because it showed the various job options that are available to me in addition to my major.”

By delivering an all-encompassing look into the Air Force, Pathways to Blue ensures cadets leave Keesler even more prepared and informed on the options awaiting them as they transition from being a civilian to an officer in the United States Air Force or United States Space Force.

“It has been such an honor and so invigorating to meet and interact with these amazing young men and women who are eager to serve our great nation. Every one of these cadets who are here today bring an armory of expertise and skillsets we need to move the force forward as we enter an era of strategic challenges,” said Edmondson. No matter where they begin, every one of their journeys will be unique and the Air Force and Space Force will prepare them to serve as mission-ready Airmen and Guardians as we reoptimize the force for Great Power Competition.”