Capt Brad Summers (Retired)

C-9A Medevac Pilot

What made you pursue ROTC and a career in the military?

Since I was a child, I always wanted to fly.  I did not have the money to earn my ratings at a flight school and figured the military would be a possibility for me.

Where did you see your career going when you were a cadet?

 I thought I would learn to fly, gain experience, then fly for an airline.

Has it followed that path? How or how not?

 Yes.  I flew in the Military for 8 years, then 25 years at Alaska Airlines.

What is your current job/assignment?

I separated from the USAF in 1982 , have been retired from Alaskan Airlines since 2008. My primary job was flying the C-9A (medevac) out of Scott AFB and Rhein/Main (Frankfurt)

What do you like most about it (and the AF in general)?

 1.Training and 2. opportunity were excellent.  3. We also enjoyed our assignments and meeting people.  We met remarkable people who have remained good friends though these many years.  4.I had many wonderful flying experiences in many places throughout the world.(flying the Berlin corridors, flying to Moscow during the cold war, flying into clandestine locations in Africa )  These were opportunities that I would never experienced and have made my life richer.

What do you like least about it (and the AF in general)?

Probably the fact that flying was kind of looked at as a secondary job.  I only wanted to fly.  I had no aspirations of managing an organization.

What surprised you most about the Air Force?

 It was eye opening to us the roll that current political events played on our opportunities.

What advice do you have for future/current cadets?

 Go into it with an open mind and enjoy the moment.  Take advantage of opportunities that would not be available to most people.

How did ROTC prepare you for your job now?

 It was the avenue that got me a commission.  I graduated in 1975 as the Vietnam conflict was coming to an end.  The military was downsizing and did not want any of us.  My wife and I married our senior year of school and by the end of the year, we were expecting a baby.  That and other circumstances qualified me for a "hardship" exemption and they allowed me to come onto active duty.  I worked for 1 1/2 years as a Base Supply Officer, then was admitted to flight training.  In all honesty, I never really planned on a career in the AF.  I will always be grateful for the scholarship that I received from the ROTC 

Anything else you'd like to add?

 As stated, I left the Air Force after 8 years.  I had a classmate in pilot training who remained in and retired as an O-9.  We lost track of each other for 30 years.  In 2008, We both retired to the same small town in Washington. (Leavenworth)  It has been fun to become reacquainted.   And we still have a bond from that unique experience we had together in 1978 at an air base that no longer exists.

Lt Col David Vetter

Current Chief of Standardization and Evaluation

Formerly T-37 Instructor Pilot, T-38 Adversary Pilot, F-15C Eagle Pilot, and MC-12 Pilot

What made you pursue ROTC and a career in the military?

I have wanted to be a pilot since grade school.  When I was a Junior in high school, I attended an Air Force Academy seminar outlining appointment requirements, but did not pursue the nomination process.  Early in my high school Senior year, my guidance counselor asked me what I wanted to do in life.  I told him I wanted to be a pilot, and he recommended that I apply for an ROTC scholarship.  I was awarded a scholarship that took me through college and into the Air Force.

Where did you see your career going when you were a cadet?

I started BYU AFROTC in the fall of 1988, at the pinnacle of Reagan's Air Force.  The Air Force was minting thousands of pilots a year, and my dream appeared to be attainable.  Desert Storm and the subsequent "peace dividend" led to a dramatic down-sizing of the Air Force.  This happened while I was serving a mission.  When I returned to BYU for Winter semester 1992, almost all cadets that had pilot slots lost them as the Air Force turned off the pilot training pipeline.  I spent the next two years mentally preparing to be a Civil Engineer in the Air Force, with a plan to serve four years and move into civilian life.  My senior year, pilot slots were bumped from 350 to 700 across the Air Force, and I was selected to go to pilot training.

Has it followed that path? How or how not?

I attended Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training at Sheppard AFB.  I stayed at ENJJPT to serve a 3-year assignment as an instructor pilot (FAIP).  From that assignment, I was able to fly the F-15C Eagle, an aircraft I never could have competed for out of pilot training.  I flew the Eagle for seven years, at Mountain Home AFB, ID, Tyndall AFB, FL, and Langley AFB, VA.  I took a five-year bonus that took me to 15 years of service.  About that time, I began flying the T-38 as an Adversary Pilot for the F-22, and did that until I reached 20 years.  I was passed over to O-5, but was selectively continued to 20 years.  I had the option to continue to serve to 24 years as an O-4.  In lieu of retirement at 20 ($3000/month retirement check), I transferred to the Reserves with 20 years of service.  I promoted to O-5 in the Reserves, and will serve to 24 before finally retiring.

What is your current job/assignment?

I currently serve as the Chief of Standardization and Evaluation for the 710th Combat Operations Squadron, an AOC Augmentation Squadron that supports the 609th AOC at Al Udeid AB, Qatar.  During my 20 years active duty, I flew the T-37 as an instructor pilot, the F-15C Eagle, the MC-12 ISR platform, and the T-38 as an adversary pilot.  I also spent one year at Osan AB, Republic of Korea, working in the 607th AOC, and four years on Air Combat Command staff as the F-15C Functional Area Manager at Langley AFB (two years of which were flying).

What do you like most about it (and the AF in general)?

As was taught/explained when I was a cadet, serving in the military gave me the opportunity to work with an amazing team.  Air Force people across all career fields are great.  I found that serving in more remote areas (e.g. Mountain Home, ID; Prince Sultan AB, KSA; Osan AB, ROK; and Bagram AB, Afghanistan) has led to the development of lifelong friendships.  Living on base with other young families is great.

What do you like least about it (and the AF in general)?

After my first ten years, I was sick of moving.  I always dreaded leaving my family for deployments.  I also hated having my behavior influenced by "what would make a good OPR bullet" and by the perception (with evidence) that future leaders are anointed as mid-level captains, and then groomed all the way to General.  I didn't lose much sleep over that, though, especially when I came to understand how much they worked themselves to the bone.

What surprised you most about the Air Force?

Honestly, the drinking culture was shocking.  I was a naïve BYU graduate that did not expect to have alcohol drive so much social interaction.  But that is not unique to the military....

What advice do you have for future/current cadets?

Here is my advice:  know what your five- and ten-year plans are for your life.  Two years out from any commitment, reassess your plans to stay in the Air Force.  When you commit to stay in, find a mentor/coach that can guide you to fill the squares needed to make rank on time.  No one is concerned for your career unless you ask them. 

How did ROTC prepare you for your job now?

ROTC taught me basic leadership skills, how to work as a team, and gave me good expectations for life on active duty.

Anything else you'd like to add?

I am blessed to have earned a full military retirement.  I'm having a fun time now working part-time as a Reserve officer, while flying for Delta Air Lines!  My dream from grade school has been achieved.

1st Lt Lewis Swanson

Current B-1 Weapons Systems Officer

What made you pursue ROTC and a career in the military?

September 11th had a big role in my decision to join the military. I wanted to support the United States somehow, and I felt I had skills that would be useful as an officer, and as an aviator, so ROTC and the Air Force naturally worked out as the means to that end.

Where did you see your career going when you were a cadet?

I joined knowing 100% that I'd be the coolest fighter pilot ever.

Has it followed that path? How or how not?

When it came time to apply for rated slots, I had to decide if cool was really a good motivator for a career, and I decided that I really wanted to do the job of a CSO - particularly in the CAS (Close Air Support) world. So I applied to be a CSO, got a slot, got my wings in Pensacola and dropped B-1s, arguably one of the premier CAS platforms because of its large payload, long loiter times, and dynamic targeting capability.

What is your current job/assignment?

B-1 WSO (Weapons Systems Officer). Just started in my first combat assignment, so I haven't had a lot of experience, but it's been a blast so far!

What do you like most about it (and the AF in general)?

The B-1 has a pretty wide mission set, so it's relevant in just about every fight - which means we play in just about every fight. We fly fast and low, and carry a lot of bombs, and the community pretty much bounces back and forth between Ellsworth AFB, SD and Dyess AFB, TX, so it's a small, tight community.

What do you like least about it (and the AF in general)?

I puke all the time. All the time. But, I did ace the crunch portion of my last PT test. ...and queep [military word for "annoying or senseless bureaucratic requirements" or "busy work"] - there's a lot to keep track of.

What surprised you most about the Air Force?

I feel like every time I go to work, I step in a portal that takes me 5-10 years backwards. I always imagined the Air Force had the newest and coolest gadgets, but it's really a big slow machine when it comes to large scale acquisitions. It's really our people that make us so effective. Our training programs (though it may not seem like it) are some of the best around, and we get more training time than most every other military, which gives us a huge advantage when it comes to combat.

What advice do you have for future/current cadets?

Honestly, chill out a bit. I met so many people going through training who were always looking to get some kind of edge - studying ahead, getting the gouge, trying to learn everything before they ever start. Calm down. The Air Force has put together a training program for you to learn your career field, and it has worked for EVERY other officer in your career. You'll graduate your program as a brand new member of some team, and you'll be expected to perform at that level. Focus your efforts on learning what's in front of you, and be a sponge to everything else, but don't stress if you don't know exactly what the next phase will look like. Lean forward, sure, but don't forget you have to stand on your feet.

How did ROTC prepare you for your job now?

ROTC does a pretty good job of preparing cadets to be officers, and frankly, at least as an aviator, you don't really get a chance to be an "officer" for your first couple of years. That said, there's lots of little times where I've felt prepared for what I'm doing because of something I learned in ROTC, and I expect as I emerge from being a "student" that I'll get a lot more opportunities for those moments to happen.

Anything else you'd like to add?

There will be times in your career, and in your life in general, where things are just going to be really bad. Don't forget to stop every once in a while and look around to find beauty wherever you are. Heavenly Father will find some pretty cool ways to bless you, if you'll just look around and see it. 

Captain Nate Amsden

CURRENT COMPUTER NETWORK OPERATIONS DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM (CNODP) INTERN 

DATE OF COMMISSIONING: 2010

What made you pursue ROTC and a career in the military? 

Through high school I wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement - either FBI or Secret Service. I lived in Houston, TX and there was a good school a few hours north that had a great Criminal Justice program. I applied to that school but my dad made me apply to a backup school just in case I didn't get accepted. To appease my dad, I applied to BYU. After getting accepted to both, the more it just made sense for me to go to BYU. I looked at my options and settled on a Computer Engineering Degree and Air Force ROTC, because the military was like law enforcement I told myself back then, but I could serve my country and get school paid for.

Where did you see your career going when you were a cadet?

As a cadet I absolutely wanted to be an Air Battle Manager. I learned everything I could about the job, the duties, the AWACS platform, the career path, and more. I did a summer PDT at Tinker AFB and toured the Ground Control Squadron at Luke AFB while there one summer. I was going to be an Air Battle Manager and let my career take me as it would.

Has it followed that path? How or how not?

I never even made it on that career path! After putting in my application for a rated slot (ABM only!) and receiving strong recommendations from the detachment cadre, I received a call one day from my DETCO that I had not been selected because the board had seen my computer engineering degree. The board had not selected me because as soon as they had seen my degree, they denied my slot because the Air Force could better use me as a computer engineer. My DETCO apologized that I was getting a "Needs of the Air Force" lesson before my career even started.

I decided that since I had a passion for Cyber Security and had attended the ACE Cyber Security Bootcamp, I would put Cyber Operations Officer as my #1 choice on my dreamsheet because the Air Force needed technical people in this new career field. Once again, the Air Force said no and made me a Computer Engineer. That didn't stop me. After my first two years at the Air Force Technical Applications Center doing Systems Engineering for the US Nuclear Detonation Detection System, I applied for and was accepted to the highly competitive Computer Network Operations Program (CNODP) at the National Security Agency. My next assignment is to the Air Force Research Lab at Wright Patterson AFB where I'll work Science and Technology R&D for Air, Cyberspace, and Space systems.

What is your current job/assignment?

I recently graduated from CNODP at NSA. It is a 3 year internship that starts with 3-4 months of int hands-on training of NSA skills and tradecraft. Following initial training, you complete 3-5 tours, 6-9 months in length with various offices across the NSA and Intelligence Community. You work as a developer/operator/analyst/planner developing and operating the tools used by NSA for its signals intelligence mission. I spent time with MUSKETEER, Cryptanalysis and Exploitation Services, the Information Assurance Directorate, Tailored Access Operations, and the Space Security and Defense Program. In my time I engineered and deployed an advanced sensor payload onto remotely piloted United States Air Force aircraft, championed the technical strategy for an interagency counterintelligence task force to track foreign spies, developed capabilities to defend against Combatant Commanders' top threats to US space systems, and other things. Currently a group of recent CNODP graduates and I are TDY to perform a cyber vulnerability analysis of the Joint Mission Planning System and how it interacts with the F-16, F-22, and B-2 platforms.

What do you like most about it (and the AF in general)?

The best part about my current assignment is the flexibility. As a member of the CNODP you are an intern and you have the flexibility to work wherever in the agency you chose. No one tells you what office to work for. However, as a CNODPer, you are expected to perform, work hard, and know your stuff. Our CNODP class worked hard during our three years to really expand the program and get CNODP out there. Now we are recognized across the Air Force as Cyber Experts and are requested for numerous projects and support. It's awesome being able to work with so many different units on their tough cyber problems!

What do you like least about it (and the AF in general)?

The biggest dislike is moving. Generally it's not so bad, but when you stack a 2.5 month TDY, PCS, 2 month TDY back to back to back, right after you sell your house and your moving plans change 5 times, it can get really frustrating! Especially when your 9 month pregnant wife and 2 year old son join you in the TLF for the 2.5 month TDY because you had already sold your house before your PCS plans changed.

Additionally there are a lot of silly things the Air Force does, both big Air Force and local units. I won't spoil the fun for you by telling you what they are :) Overall the Air Force life is great!

What surprised you most about the Air Force?

Showing up to work at a new job and being expected to know what's going on and to perform as a leader. That didn't mean you couldn't ask tons of questions to learn about systems, protocol, and how things work! In fact, it's highly recommended and almost expected!

What advice do you have for future/current cadets?

Work hard where you are now! You may think your grades now don't really matter as long as you get what you need to commission. You may think that's the case especially if you don't plan on going for a rated slot. You never know when you'll want to apply for a special job or opportunity where they will want a copy of your transcript and your GPA will be a deciding factor! Plus, working hard in ROTC will give you a good work ethic and translate into hard, effective work  in all your assignments. Your supervisors and commanders will recognize your hard work and you'll stand out among your peers. Plus America will thank you for your hard work :)

And, if you haven't caught on from my past answers...bloom where you are planted. The air force may put you down a path you didn't expect, or didn't want at first, but there are good things to do everywhere and it will be fun if you make it so!

How did ROTC prepare you for your job now?

Every semester you get a new job and are expected to perform. You read the continuity and ask questions of others who previously did the job. You have a short amount of time to get your thoughts together before you need to start showing results! On Active Duty when you get to a new job you are immediately expected to perform!

Anything else you'd like to add? 

Work hard, play hard! Make friends with your coworkers and other CGOs! And seriously, networking gets you very far in the Air Force! I'm also in LEAP for German, and I'm a National Administrative Consultant for Arnold Air Society and the previous AAS National Webmaster. Feel free to hit me up for any questions about ROTC, being an engineer, CNODP, LEAP, AAS, Air Force, anything!

Captain Metta Mundell

CURRENT DEPUTY DIRECTOR, EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

What made you pursue ROTC and a career in the military? 

My best friend was doing AFROTC at BYU and invited me to join her. I originally told her no, the military didn’t seem like something for me. I had been praying about what I wanted to do with my life: if and when I wanted to attend college, where I wanted to go to college, what degree I wanted to pursue, etc. I ended up in the ROTC detachment parking lot when I was on BYU campus for another friend's event and while waiting to find out where to meet him I decided to walk in and talk to them about the ROTC program. In talking with the Lt Col/Cadre member, I decided I liked the idea of trying it out for the first year or two and seeing if I found it to be what I wanted to do so I decided to join the program.

Where did you see your career going when you were a cadet? 

As I went through college and changed majors from pre-nursing to exercise science and got into the upper classes, I got more and more excited about maybe a career in Physical Therapy and the prospect of possibly pursuing it through the Air Force.

Has it followed that path? How or how not? 

Not so much. I am a Personnelist and have run into road blocks being allowed to look into cross training and having leadership to help and support me in those efforts.

What is your job in the Air Force right now? 

I currently work in the Equal Opportunity office.

What surprised you most about the Air Force? 

I guess I wouldn’t say I was super surprised; we were often told that we could run into situations where 10% of the people do 90% of the work, but I was hoping it wasn’t as bad as they said. The amount of people that lack respect for others though, that I was not expecting and am hoping that my next assignment will not have so much of this disrespect going on.

What do you like most about it? 

The cheerful, happy hardworking people that want to help others and see others (not just themselves) succeed and everyone do well.

What do you like least about it? 

The disrespect, judgement, miscommunications that occur so often.

What advice do you have for future/current cadets as they pursue careers in the military? 

Take care of your people: “service before self.” Not everyone in the Air Force takes that to heart or utilizes that.

How did ROTC prepare you for your job now? 

It helped strengthen my view of respecting others and working hard to get things done.