Outstanding DelQuest students visit 552 ACW

Col. Patricia Hoffman, commander, 552nd Air Control Wing, and Capt. Brian Hardeman, air battle manager, 552nd Operations Group welcome DelQuest students onto the E-3 Sentry for a tour and a chance to talk with several crewmembers. Photo compliments of 1Lt Kinder Blacke.

Col. Patricia Hoffman, commander, 552nd Air Control Wing, and Capt. Brian Hardeman, air battle manager, 552nd Operations Group welcome DelQuest students onto the E-3 Sentry for a tour and a chance to talk with several crewmembers. Photo compliments of 1Lt Kinder Blacke.

Maj. Rich Stikeleather, 966th Airborne Air Control Squadron, helps one of the DelQuest students try on an oxygen mask during her tour of the E-3 Sentry. Photo compliments of 1Lt Kinder Blacke.

Maj. Rich Stikeleather, 966th Airborne Air Control Squadron, helps one of the DelQuest students try on an oxygen mask during her tour of the E-3 Sentry. Photo compliments of 1Lt Kinder Blacke.

SSgt Jason Peters, flight engineer, 966th Airborne Air Control Squadron, fulfills the students’ curiosities by explaining what several buttons and levers do in the cockpit of the E-3 Sentry. Photo compliments of 1Lt Kinder Blacke.

SSgt Jason Peters, flight engineer, 966th Airborne Air Control Squadron, fulfills the students’ curiosities by explaining what several buttons and levers do in the cockpit of the E-3 Sentry. Photo compliments of 1Lt Kinder Blacke.

13 Nov 2008 -- Airmen from the 552nd Air Control Wing spent an afternoon mentoring 25 gifted high school students from the Del City district November 13 as they toured the E-3 Sentry and mission simulators.

The event was sponsored by the DelQuest Future Leaders of America Program, which selects deserving high school juniors from the Del City district to participate in three days of leadership training and professional development.

"The program introduces the kids to leaders in many different positions and at all levels, from the lowest ranks to the highest," said Mr. Rex Barrett, member of the DelQuest Board and director of Project OKC. "It is important for the students to be leaders now," he said, "and we are helping to provide the training and skills so that they can be."

The students who attended were chosen out of more than 40 applicants based on their written application and an individual interview conducted by a team of DelQuest sponsors, said Mr. Barrett.

"We look for two types of students to participate in the program: those who are already leaders and those who have the potential to be... the 'diamonds in the rough,'" he said.

The selected students learned about leadership from the Del City Mayor, Brian Linley and other civic leaders who served as sponsors and chaperones for the program. When they came to Tinker Air Force Base, the 552nd Air Control Wing Airmen showed them leadership, Air Force Style.

"Being at Tinker Air Force Base was great because we saw bunches of real live leaders and heroes in action," said Sarah Schiete, the first home-schooled student to earn a spot in the program.

During their visit, the students had the opportunity to speak with both Sentry flyers and maintainers to find out what could be in store for them if they chose a career in the United States Air Force. They were also individually coined by Col. Patricia Hoffman, 552 ACW Commander, who walked them through the aircraft and shared her leadership advice.

"All of the adults and mentors made an amazing and lasting impression on me!" said Miss Schiete.

The students were gracious visitors to the wing and agreed that Col. Hoffman and the 552 ACW Airmen are "awesome." The Airmen held a comparable opinion of the students.

"The kids were well-behaved, attentive, and inquisitive. They wanted to know everything they could about the mission simulators and the jet," said 2nd Lt. Jason Stockdale, 552nd Air Control Networks Squadron, who served as the project officer for the DelQuest visit.

"They were a fantastic bunch of students, and it was an absolute pleasure being around them," said Capt. Brian Hardeman, 552nd Operations Group, who served as the project officer for the DelQuest visit last year and is currently a member of the DelQuest board.

The students also got to watch a re-enlistment ceremony for seven Tinker Airmen: TSgt Jason Crosby, 72 FSS; TSgt Brett Fincher, 552 ACNS; SSgt James Furnish, 32 CCS; TSgt Mark Garcia, 552 MOS; TSgt John Hall, 31 CCS; TSgt Lola Hall, 72 FSS; and SrA Dennis Nixon, 964 AACS.

"There was a lot of work that went into this event and it was obvious that the kids enjoyed it," said Lt. Stockdale.

The students admitted to not only having fun, but also learning a lot about leadership qualities. They were impressed by the E-3 and amazed by the crew's ability to know what all of the buttons are for!

The students were not the only ones who were impressed. "The students' ability to articulate their thoughts was impressive and truly insightful as well as memorable," said Capt. Hardeman. "I learned a lot from them," he added.

"It was a very enlightening experience watching the students, who at the beginning were nervous and apprehensive about who was going to initially take charge in the leadership exercises, transform into leaders with more confidence who want to step up and take charge," said Capt. Hardeman.

"DelQuest is an amazing opportunity to learn what it takes to be a leader, and how to be a better one," Miss Schiete concluded. "You meet so many people, go to so many awesome places, gain great friends, and have an opportunity to win a $500 scholarship. It is an opportunity I will remember for the rest of my life!"