SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. (AFNS) --
The 4th Fighter Wing and Air Force Global Strike Command recently hosted Strive 4th: A Project Tuskegee and aviation inspiration mentorship initiative on Nov. 4, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.
Project Tuskegee is a new initiative and partnership established by AFGSC commander, Gen. Anthony Cotton, and Tuskegee University aimed at increasing opportunities for underrepresented groups within local communities and Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. This initiative allows for AFROTC cadets from various universities to be presented with opportunities available to an AFGSC Airmen. The intent is to reinforce the historical connection between Tuskegee Airmen and AFGSC.
"All Airmen stand on the shoulders of the Tuskegee Airmen,” Cotton said. “The Tuskegee Airmen were critical to the success of bomber forces during World War II, proving that we are better when everyone has an opportunity to contribute."
Strive 4th was shaped by diversity and inclusion, was opportunity focused and helped introduce the Air Force and its possibilities to the underrepresented. It pioneered a renewed focus on communities near historically Black colleges and universities, targeting AFROTC and Junior ROTC programs.
AFGSC looked at different bases across the Air Force, specifically targeting ones that had a large, diverse local population. With Seymour Johnson AFB, the local community of Goldsboro, and the surrounding areas, housed such diversity. The 4th FW was then presented the opportunity to host AFGSC and Project Tuskegee with Strive 4th.
The Strive 4th event provided base Airmen the opportunity to work with Wayne County students and local AFROTC detachments to provide a look at Seymour Johnson’s mission, aviation as a whole and various STEM programs.
Eleven Wayne County middle schools, the Wayne School of Technical Arts, one computer science club from a local high school, two Civil Air Patrol squadrons and three AFROTC detachments.
On the flightline, several stations and static displays were created for the attendees, said Capt. Paige Burnette, 4th Force Support Squadron sustainment services flight commander. Maintainers and crew answered questions about the displayed F-15E Strike Eagle, B-1B Lancer and KC-46A Pegasus. STEM stations covering firefighting and explosive ordnance disposal, among others, highlighted the various equipment and technologies utilized.
AFROTC cadets received an immersive base tour to introduce and expose them to different career fields and their operations.
In Addition, local Goldsboro community leaders also participated in the event alongside leaders from AFGSC, the 4th FW, the 916th Air Refueling Wing and the local Tuskegee Airmen Chapter.
“In many instances, if kids don’t see it, they don’t think they can be it,” said Lt. Col. Craig Dorn, AFGSC headquarters squadron commander. “To impact and influence the youth by providing opportunity to see the greater picture of the Air Force is what we are all about. The reason why this initiative is unique and different from other big events, like an airshow for example, is participants get the opportunity to interact with equipment and aircraft, engage and talk with our Airmen, [and] maybe realize they have the same story as someone, and they can be what that Airman is one day too.”
The goal was to introduce aviation and STEM to youths at a young age, inform them of educational expectations and requirements, and create a head start to become academically qualified to compete for ROTC scholarships and be successful.
“We were excited about the AFROTC coming,” Burnette said. “A lot of excitement and focus was toward the local middle schoolers coming. If anybody took anything away from this, if even one kid got excited about aviation or STEM, then we did our job.”