By Rebecca Hertz
Killeen Daily Herald
Four Central Texas JROTC cadets were recognized Tuesday for completing the Cadet Flight Indoctrination Program, a summer scholarship program in academics and flight training sponsored by Fort Hood Flight 103, Order of Daedalians.
The fully funded aviation course is conducted by the Central Texas College each summer.
"From a potential total of approximately 700 ROTC and JROTC cadets enrolled in seven high schools and three colleges in the Central Texas area, four JROTC cadets have made it to this point," Awards and Scholarship Chairman Don MacWillie said.
When the program began in June, the students completed a discovery flight to gauge their interest in the program, followed by safety training, ground school and actual flight instruction.
Solo flights lasted 20 to 30 minutes and included three takeoffs and three landings. Each student was awarded a flight jacket and certificate of recognition for soloing in a light fixed-wing aircraft.
Cadet Robert Lee Rousey is a senior at Killeen High School who plans to apply to Texas A&M University and Embry Riddle to study aviation with the goal of joining the Air Force later.
He was recommended for the flight program by his senior Army instructor, retired Lt. Col. Lennon Tatum.
Rousey is commander of the Killeen High School Rifle Team and an NRA air rifle distinguished expert. He completed his solo flight Monday afternoon in a Cesna 152 aircraft.
"My mom wasn't worried," Rousey said. "She taped my touch-and-go landings."
Cadet Heriberto Guevara, a Temple High School senior, is a member of the National Honor Society and distinguished Summer Leadership Camp graduate. He plans to attend the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., after completing high school to study engineering or architecture. Guevara had never flown in an airplane prior to the program.
"This is an experience I will remember forever. I will tell my children and grandchildren," Guevara said. "I would definitely do it again and wouldn't trade the experience for anything in the world."
Cadet Mathew Erwin Christiansen, a senior at Copperas Cove High School, was recommended for the program by his senior Army instructor, retired Chief Warrant Officer-3 Enrique Herrera.
Christiansen maintains a 4.0 grade-point average and participates in the All-Region Band, varsity baseball and is a member of the Honor Blues Color Guard.
Christiansen hopes to attend the Air Force Academy and would like to study psychiatry. Having completed his solo certification, he hopes to complete the minimum 40 hours of flight time necessary to become earn his private pilot's license.
"I had only flown in big airliners before, I was so excited." Christiansen said. "The plane is so small you can feel every little detail, but once you go up, it's like nothing."
Cadet Thomas James Reid Jr. was recommended for the program by his senior Army instructor, retired Lt. Col. Lennon Tatum.
Reid is a senior at Shoemaker High School and hopes to attend the U.S. Army flight school at Fort Rucker, Ala., to become a helicopter pilot.
He is a member of the Shoemaker Rifle Team.
Reid was the first in the group to solo. He said he picked up the training very quickly. Reid's father is currently deployed, but was able to attend the discovery flight with his son before leaving.
"I was really excited to do this," Reid said. "I liked the solo best – I was up there by myself and it was a blast."
The cadets all agreed that the experience was amazing and they would recommend the opportunity to anyone.
Cadets Christiansen and Guevara, who plan to join the Air Force, were awarded models of the F-100F aircraft.
Two separate scholarships fund the program, The Brig. Gen. David Lee "Tex" Hill Scholarship, and the Retired Lt. Col. Leslie "Les" Leavoy Cadet Flight Indoctrination Program Scholarship.
"The program is designed to guide young people toward a career in the military and to help perpetuate the spirit of patriotism and love of country," MacWillie said.
Contact Rebecca Hertz at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7469.