Air Force ROTC’s year in a glance


By Marley Capper

Sarena Shilts, second to right, accepts her scholarship award and commander sword at the dining out event. Photo courtesy of Shilts.

TCU’s Air Force ROTC program is ranked the number one small detachment in the country and has accomplished so many things despite its small size.

The program is made up of 22 students from TCU, three from Tarleton State University, 14 from The University of Texas at Arlington, five from Tarrant County College, and two from Weatherford College. Twenty-four Cadets are currently on scholarship.

Cadets in the program are enrolled in an aerospace studies course on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s and a leadership laboratory on Thursday’s where the cadets practice marching and engage in group leadership projects.

Annual Dining Out event

Every year AFROTC detachment 845 hosts a Dining Out event and this was the first year a female won the Kenneth and Kaylynn Caldwell Leadership Excellence Award.

Sarena Shilts, a senior mathematics major and cadet wing commander, was the first female to be awarded the scholarship, receiving $5,000.

Kenneth Caldwell was a part of the detachment and wanted to give back to AFROTC as a way to pay tribute since he received so much from the program.

“I am extremely honored and humbled to have received the award,” said Shilts. “Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell embody what it means to give back and I am overwhelming grateful for their support and for detachment 845 for making me the person I am today.”

After graduation, Shilts will be attending pilot training at Laughlin Air Force base in April and said she plans to stay in Fort Worth and teach yoga until she leaves.


Field Training Exercise, or FTX, is the AFROTC super bowl, as cadet Matthew Flynn puts it.

“It’s a training exercise that the older cadets run for the underclassmen to train them for officer training that they will attend the summer between their sophomore and junior year”,” said Flynn.

Dawson Vasconi, a junior training squadron commander, was in charge of planning the event and said that he loved the opportunity to plan it because it forced him to set mini-goals along the way to ensure a great training even.

Cadets participating in FTX learn skills necessary for deployment. Photo courtesy of John Nelson

Vasconi also won a scholarship at the Dining Out event and hopes to become a financial management officer for the Air Force.

Career Day

AFROTC invites retired and active duty U.S. Air Force Officers and enlisted Airmen to talk to the detachment about their experiences.

“Career day is one most anticipated events of the fall semester,” wrote Cadet Michael Bronn in a yearly AFROTC newsletter.

Guests who attended represented 24 different career fields and spoke with cadets to give them a better understanding of prospective Air Force careers they may have.

Air Force Base visit

In November AFROTC cadets had the opportunity to visit and tour Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas.

Cadets spent two days on base and were able to talk with pilots, lawyers and many other military personnel to better understand their jobs and broaden their perspective on Air Force career fields.


Cadets host fun social events through the year to bring the detachment together, such as volleyball tournaments, grill outs and the annual Army vs Air Force flag football game.

They also host an event called Warrior Day, which consists of different teams competing in a variety of games such as football, soccer, ultimate frisbee, dodgeball, and relay races.

AFROTC hopes to create a bigger presence on campus and continue to grow their detachment of rising leaders.

Vasconi stated that his goal is to get 100 new cadets for the next school year.