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We don't all fly airplanes: High schoolers view ANG's less-familiar fields

Staff Sgt. Amber Sides, a cable and antennae journeyman with the 270th Engineering Installation Squadron of the Pa. Air National Guard, helps Michael A. Davanzo III, a student in the Easton, Pa. area’s Career Institute of Technology, during tower-climbing familiarization training at Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa., March 18, 2016. Approximately 40 students took part in the tour, which illustrated some of the less familiar career fields available in the Air National Guard (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

Staff Sgt. Amber Sides, a cable and antennae journeyman with the 270th Engineering Installation Squadron of the Pa. Air National Guard, helps Michael A. Davanzo III, a student in the Easton, Pa. area’s Career Institute of Technology, during tower-climbing familiarization training at Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa., March 18, 2016. Approximately 40 students took part in the tour, which illustrated some of the less familiar career fields available in the Air National Guard (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

Staff Sgt. Frederick Becker, of the 270th Engineering Installation Squadron with the Pa. Air National Guard, explains safety procedures at permit-required confined spaces -- like a utility hole -- to a group of students from the Career Institute of Technology, Easton, Pa., during a school tour at Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa., March 18, 2016. The students were given a tour by the 111th Attack Wing recruiters throughout a RED HORSE, Det. 1 hangar and the 270th EIS. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

Staff Sgt. Frederick Becker, of the 270th Engineering Installation Squadron with the Pa. Air National Guard, explains safety procedures at permit-required confined spaces -- like a utility hole -- to a group of students from the Career Institute of Technology, Easton, Pa., during a school tour at Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa., March 18, 2016. The students were given a tour by the 111th Attack Wing recruiters throughout a RED HORSE, Det. 1 hangar and the 270th EIS. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

Master Sgt. Kevin Watson, the 111th Attack Wing recruiting office supervisor with the Pa. Air National Guard, watches as students from the Career Institute of Technology in Easton, Pa., exit the bus into a hangar filled with heavy equipment belonging to the RED HORSE Det.1 at Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa., March 18, 2016. The students toured the 270th Engineering Installation Squadron along with part of the RED HORSE unit here. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

Master Sgt. Kevin Watson, the 111th Attack Wing recruiting office supervisor with the Pa. Air National Guard, watches as students from the Career Institute of Technology in Easton, Pa., exit the bus into a hangar filled with heavy equipment belonging to the RED HORSE Det.1 at Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa., March 18, 2016. The students toured the 270th Engineering Installation Squadron along with part of the RED HORSE unit here. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond)

HORSHAM AIR GUARD STATION, Pa. -- Nearly 40 students from the Career Institute of Technology, Easton, Pennsylvania, visited the 270th Engineering Installation Squadron and the 201st Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineer (RED HORSE), Det. 1 during a school trip here March 18.

The goal was to introduce students, primarily in CIT's Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Engineering Graphics program, to some lesser-known career options available to them within the Air National Guard, specifically the Pennsylvania National Guard's 111th Attack Wing.

"We were showing the students, a lot of them engineering students, how what they're doing now in school fits into what we do here, and how it all impacts the mission," said Staff Sgt. Kent Corey, a 201st RED HORSE, Det. 1 heavy equipment operator who assisted in the event.

Divided into two groups, the students took turns touring a hangar brimming with heavy equipment used primarily by pavement and equipment operators. While students scrambled into the driver's seats of the large machines, Corey gave the groups an informal presentation regarding the many career fields offered within the Wing's RED HORSE component.

With only six recognized Air National Guard RED HORSE squadrons worldwide, these squadrons provide the Air Force with a highly-mobile civil engineer response force to support contingency and special operations worldwide. The units are self-sufficient heavy construction squadrons capable of rapid response and independent operations in remote, high-threat environments, providing heavy repair and construction capabilities when requirements exceed normal civil engineer unit abilities.

Corey, originally from Scranton, Pennsylvania, continued by answering questions posed by students. Queries ranged from the mechanical capabilities of the equipment to education benefits offered by the Pennsylvania National Guard.

The students also were treated to another hands-on display, this time by the 270th EIS, which had them hanging from harnesses, handling radio antennas and exploring manholes.

The 270th EIS provides specialized cyber engineering resources and support assets to accomplish engineering and installation of all C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) infrastructures and airfield systems for the DOD, regular Air Force and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

"If you ask me, I think the [270th EIS] is one of the best-kept secrets in the Air National Guard, as a whole," said 1st Lt. Dakota Kauffman, 270th EIS project engineer who assisted in the tour. "There aren't a lot of E&I (engineering and installation) units out there. If I'm not mistaken, I think there are only 14 units that handle world-wide installation work that E&I is given.

"Having these students here, we can show them our [exceptional mission] while also saying, 'You might not have a whole life plan figured out, but here's something you can do for six years, maybe 20 years, that will give you a solid foundation.'"

Speaking about both the REDHORSE and EIS missions, Kauffman stated, "These are the support in the background that really makes the Air Force what it is."

Kauffman finished by expressing that it is important to show that not all Air National Guardsmen are pilots.

The 111th ATKW recruiters ushered students throughout the day's experiences, offering assorted information regarding the Pennsylvania Air National Guard.

Without a jet in sight, the students finished their day with an increased awareness of the benefits and opportunities provided by the 111th ATKW. For many students, seeing ANG careers fields that aren't directly related to flying aircraft was unexpected.

"It's been fun, eye-opening," said student Zachary Bowman. "It's interesting to see all these different things that are working around here and the specifics of how things work.

"I was surprised to see things that didn't have to do with flying--that really caught me off guard."

Some students even expressed an interest in joining the military.

"There's been a lot of good stuff I've seen," said Michael A. Davanzo III, CAD student at CIT. "I've been enjoying everything."

Davanzo said he's looking to get into an aerospace career field and might consider the military in the future.

Only time will tell if the event truly increased an interest in enlisting in some of the 111th ATKW's crucial careers. Regardless, the project proved successful in relating the non-flying missions of the ANG to a key audience and offering mentorship opportunities to members here.

"Mentorship is extremely important in the military and ultimately it's [the students'] decision of whether they choose to come into the military," said Corey. "We're not looking to just recruit people for the sake of recruiting. We want people who want to be in the military.

"And if I've helped anyone who was on the fence as to whether or not they wanted to join, make the decision to actually enter [the 111th Attack Wing], then that's fantastic."