MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --
Fifty years ago today, the Saturn V, carrying the Lunar Module “Eagle,” launched out of Kennedy Space Center. It was from this achievement that Neil Armstrong recited his famous line which echoed around the world, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
To commemorate this monumental achievement, the Air Force’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, the City of Montgomery, Civil Air Patrol and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, which is located in Huntsville, Alabama, joined forces as they sent more than 200 model rockets above River Front Stadium in Montgomery, Alabama.
The event welcomed local and base leadership, as well as the River Region community to watch as Air Force Junior ROTC and CAP cadets teamed up together to make this “mission” a success.
“The overall goal was to foster teamwork, comradery and to get everyone grouped up to show that we are one team, one force, so I’d say it was an accomplishment,” said Capt. Joshua Amerspek, CAP director of cadet programs for the Alabama Wing. “They got to be a part of a hands-on mission versus just being a person in the audience.”
Air Force Junior ROTC and CAP are two of the Air Force’s largest youth education and outreach programs, with a combined total of 150,000 cadets worldwide and strive to shape the next generation of great leaders and citizens.
Air Force Junior ROTC Cadet Jakia Reynolds, a student at Wilcox High School, said she had always been a shy kid, but through the program she gained a strong foundation for leadership and good character.
Another cornerstone behind this event was to inspire Montgomery youth to make steps and leaps of their own, specifically in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields of study, something local military and civil leadership have labeled a priority.
“I think the River Region Rocket Day is complimentary to the initiatives that Air University is putting together with the City of Montgomery,” said Maj. Michael Allen, deputy chief of operations for Air Force Junior ROTC. “I think this is just one step forward in a positive direction to bring the Montgomery Public School System and Air University one step closer to success for today’s youth.”
The Alabama Secretary of Education, the honorable Dr. Eric Mackey, was one of the several local leaders in attendance and challenged the cadets and local youth to aspire to be the next generation of great scientists to lead the way.
“The beginning starts right here,” said Lt. Gen. Anthony Cotton, Air University commander and president. “We need to make sure that this is not an ending, but a beginning of an incredible journey that we have as American citizens and to continue to make sure that we are number one in air, space and cyberspace.”