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Student meets graduation requirements the 'Air Guard' way

Colin T. Wisler listens to Master Sgt. Geoffrey W. Gay, 201st RED HORSE Squadron NCO in charge of the  heavy equipment section at the 111th Attack Wing, while shadowing Gay as part of his high school senior project, July 31, 2014, at Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michael P. Shaffer/Released)

Colin T. Wisler listens to Master Sgt. Geoffrey W. Gay, 201st RED HORSE Squadron NCO in charge of the heavy equipment section at the 111th Attack Wing, while shadowing Gay as part of his high school senior project, July 31, 2014, at Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Michael P. Shaffer/Released)

HORSHAM AIR GUARD STATION, Pa. --
The 111th Attack Wing assisted a Boyertown Area High School student meet his graduation requirements July, 31 here.

Colin Wisler, a senior at Boyertown Area High School and the school's Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps platoon commander, met with and shadowed Master Sgt. Geoffrey Gay, 201st RED HORSE Squadron NCO in charge here, as part of his senior project.

Gay toured Wisler around the squadron's facilities and then took him out to the heavy machinery training area. Wisler was educated on proper safety and safety-equipment use when working on, around and in heavy equipment. Gay walked him through an operational check on the unit's Volvo excavator, while explaining the machine's capabilities and limitations.

Donning his protective gear, Gay fired up the excavator and moved it into the dirt, giving Wisler a sample of a day in the life of a Red Horse heavy-machine operator.

Wisler looked in awe as the massive piece of machinery shook the ground while moving into position.

The decision for Wisler to shadow a member of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard was easy, given his existing interest in the military.

"I was recently promoted to the rank of master sergeant in my Junior ROTC program," said Wisler. "You might think this is silly, but playing the 'Call of Duty' video game honestly made me want to join the military."

The wide-eyed Wisler watched intently as Gay explained every switch, pedal and lever in the giant-tracked digging machine. Climbing out of the operator's seat, Gay allowed the high school senior to take his place and grab a birds-eye view. He said Gay explained the purpose of each control in the cabin and how to properly operate the machine thoroughly and safely.

While the purpose of the job shadowing was to meet a graduation requirement, it might have also served as a recruiting tool for the 111th ATKW.

"You're a born natural," Gay said to Wisler. "I wish I could recruit you into my shop."