U.S. Air Force cadets team up with Prime BEEF
5/25/2012 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The sounds of hammers and drills echoed through the air as Air Force Academy cadets gave Osan Air Base's civil engineers an extra hand with construction May 24.
Approximately 15 cadets from the Academy worked side-by-side for two weeks with the 51st Civil Engineer Squadron's Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force to learn about the tangible application of their studies.
"We're civil engineering majors and we're coming out to different bases throughout the Air Force to see what civil engineers do," said Cadet 1st Class Joseph Chapman, who graduates this year.
The engineers at Osan were building a pole barn to protect surplus items awaiting redistribution or destruction. CE received word about the cadets' arrival and found they would mutually benefit.
The academy's summer program allows junior and senior cadets first-hand experience on what the active-duty Air Force is like by traveling to bases to see what to expect, and to get a little bit of hands-on training that will help them become better leaders, he explained.
"This is my first base that I've really been to," said Chapman. "I think it just gives us a broader idea of what we're going to actually be doing instead of worrying about just academics."
For 51st CES Airmen, having the cadets there to lend a helping hand proves not only beneficial for building projects, but it gives future leaders of the Air Force a perspective on their people.
"I think it's great for them to come out and get some hands-on experience, so when they're planning jobs in the future, they understand what is actually going into it from the workers' point of view," said Staff Sgt. Brandon Alter, 51st Civil Engineer structures specialist. "Having somebody who has never had the hands-on at all and looking at a plan on a piece of paper, they can only picture so much. But when they've actually been hands-on and done the work, I think it helps them and the Air Force in the long run."
"We had some of the cadets come out and help us frame up the walls," Alter said. "They don't have a layout. Myself and the other three CE guys here, we're their layout."
According to Alter, the cadets picked up in the middle of the project with no prior experience of creating a barn of this type.
"Basically it's like, 'here's a hammer, here's a nail, put this together -- go!' They don't really know what the overall building is going to look like when it's done so they're just kind of shooting from the hip. But, having them really speeds up the process for us."
For Chapman, the on the job experience and travel to Korea made the trip worth it.
"I think this is a pretty cool base to come to," he said. "It's one of the two overseas bases that we had an option to come to and I actually put it at the top of my list."
Prime BEEF teams are rapidly deployable, specialized civil engineer units, which provide a wide variety of engineering support required to establish, operate and maintain garrison and contingency air bases.