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UTSA Air Force ROTC wins best detachment, two regional awards

UTSA Air Force ROTC wins best detachment, two regional awards

Dec. 13, 2019 — UTSA Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps detachment 842 has been named the U.S. Air Force 2019 High Flight award winner for the second consecutive year, signifying the best large ROTC detachment in a region that spans from Louisiana to Hawaii.

Two cadre members were also selected for individual regional awards. Capt. Celeste Florell ’09 was named Education Officer of the Year and Capt. Glen Peoples was chosen as Recruiting Officer of the Year.

“It lends credibility to the fact that what we’re doing is right—and that we’re doing it well,” said Lt. Col. Brian Rendell, commander of the UTSA Air Force ROTC detachment. “Most importantly, it’s something that the cadets can be proud of.”

The cadets and staff alike have thrived at advancing the high mark of success established in 2018, when the group won the High Flight award, program manager Agustin Llano was named the nation’s Air Force ROTC University Employee of the Year, Capt. Jesse Beinhower was selected as the region’s best education officer, and Capt. Anthony Guajardo ’11 was tabbed as the region’s best recruiting officer.

“We’re seeing people come to UTSA simply because they want to be part of this detachment.”

LT. COL. BRIAN RENDELL, Commander of UTSA Air Force ROTC Detachment 842

UTSA’s program was recognized for its efforts in cadet development, engaging experiences, community support and its passion for investing in future leaders. These qualities have been noted not only by the Air Force but also prospective students around the nation.

“There are people that go to Texas A&M because they want to be in the Corps of Cadets. Now we’re seeing people come to UTSA simply because they want to be part of this detachment,” Rendell said. “We have cadets who came from the East Coast because they did the research and know that we’re putting in award-winning work. How cool is that!” 

Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the UTSA Air Force ROTC program includes more than 220 cadets. It is the second largest detachment in Texas (only A&M’s Corps of Cadets is larger) and the 11th largest in the nation. The diverse group is made up of cadets from UTSA and six other San Antonio area colleges and universities.

Cadets in the program commit more than 1,000 hours to career-focused training through academic courses, weekly leadership laboratories, physical training, field training and off-site professional development. Those facets along with strong university and community support are a big reason why UTSA’s detachment not only attracts a large number of cadets but also retains them. 

“Being in Military City USA is amazing because we can utilize so many programs that very few others can,” Peoples said. Among many examples, he noted that cadets have gone on incentive flights with pilots at Randolph AFB, participated in physical training with Air Force Special Forces members stationed at Lackland AFB and conducted field activities at Camp Bullis. Joint Base San Antonio Commander and Brig. Gen. Laura Lenderman has also stopped by campus to engage with students at the leadership laboratory, where UTSA President Taylor Eighmy and Provost Kimberly Andrews Espy have also spoken with the cadets. 

Many cadets have also enjoyed enriching opportunities across the country and abroad due to the cadre’s efforts and connections to Air Force programming. They’ve visited bases in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, with a trip to Florida on the horizon.

Some have job-shadowed Air Force officers and participated in national character and leadership symposiums. A few earned 50-plus flying hours and their private flying licenses, and a few more took part in Project Go, a language and culture training program that sends to cadets to foreign countries like China.

“Those programs give the students a great opportunity to actually learn firsthand about a career field or a culture, rather than reading about it on the internet or hearing things from friends,” Florell said. 

Learn more about the UTSA Air Force ROTC Detachment 842 or call (210) 458-4624.
Get to know the first UTSA Air Force ROTC alum to become a brigadier general.

While UTSA is providing its cadets with unique learning experiences, the university is also making strides to ensure the detachment succeeds in the classroom. Cadre members have pointed to partnerships with the Tomás Rivera Center and The Writing Center as a big help. A mandatory study hall for freshmen has provided motivation and accountability for the youngest of cadets.

Florell added time management classes to the syllabus to help students plan their semesters. Most importantly, peer support—through new ROTC dorm rooms and an education flight made up of juniors and seniors that provides mentorship to freshmen and sophomores—has been a major academic benefit for the detachment.

“In many ways they’re creating and executing the vision for how we make the detachment better,” Rendell said.

Although the purpose of any Air Force ROTC detachment is to commission exceptional officers for the Air Force, UTSA’s detachment aims to shape men and women who will become outstanding scholars and community pillars as well.

“Our sole mission is to develop leaders who will go out and make an impact in the world,” Rendell said. “Whether they stay in the Air Force or not, we’re giving them a skill set that’s going to make them better for the rest of their lives.”

Shea Conner

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University of Texas at San Antonio receives ‘transformational’ $40M gift

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