Sheppard hosts career fair in conjunction with Air Show

U.S. Air Force Thunderbird pilot number two, Capt. Ryan Bodenheimer, talks to students from seven local Wichita Falls, Texas, high schools and two from Dallas, during the Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, career fair, Sept. 16, 2016. The career fair provided an opportunity for students to learn about the Air Force and the various careers it offers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kyle E. Gese)

U.S. Air Force Thunderbird pilot number two, Capt. Ryan Bodenheimer, talks to students from seven local Wichita Falls, Texas, high schools and two from Dallas, during the Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, career fair, Sept. 16, 2016. The career fair provided an opportunity for students to learn about the Air Force and the various careers it offers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kyle E. Gese)

Students from seven local Wichita Falls, Texas, high schools and two from Dallas, explore the various static displays at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, during a career fair, Sept. 16, 2016. The career fair provided an opportunity for students to learn about the Air Force and the various careers it offers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kyle E. Gese)

Students from seven local Wichita Falls, Texas, high schools and two from Dallas, explore the various static displays at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, during a career fair, Sept. 16, 2016. The career fair provided an opportunity for students to learn about the Air Force and the various careers it offers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kyle E. Gese)

Lt. Col. Arnold Bowen, 365th Training Squadron commander, talks with students from seven local Wichita Falls, Texas, high schools and two from Dallas, during the Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, career fair, Sept. 16, 2016. The career fair provided an opportunity for students to learn about the Air Force and the various careers it offers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kyle E. Gese)

Lt. Col. Arnold Bowen, 365th Training Squadron commander, talks with students from seven local Wichita Falls, Texas, high schools and two from Dallas, during the Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, career fair, Sept. 16, 2016. The career fair provided an opportunity for students to learn about the Air Force and the various careers it offers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kyle E. Gese)

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --

Before the gates opened for thousands of people to flood Sheppard Air Force Base, the base hosted a career fair for seven local high schools and two from the Dallas area, Sept. 16, 2016 – giving them a chance to see firsthand the capabilities and opportunities the Air Force has to offer.

 

The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds opened with an introductory video and shared their individual stories afterward. Thunderbird number two, Capt. Ryan Bodenheimer, then opened the floor to answer any questions the students had.

 

“No question is off limits,” he said, as students began to raise their hands. The students asked questions from a wide spectrum such as “what is it like to be a pilot,” to “what kinds of careers are available to artists.” Regardless of what questions they had, the team was prepared to give candid responses to the students.

 

After the open forum with the Thunderbirds, the schools had an opportunity to visit each of the static displays set up for the 75th Anniversary Air Show Celebration. Several of the Airmen who work with the aircraft were also there to talk about their respective career fields and show just how much each job affects the Air Force.

 

For one commander, the career fair was just a bit more personal. Lt. Col. Arnold Bowen, 365th Training Squadron commander, grew up in the Dallas suburbs and shared his personal story with several students; providing insight to what they could look forward to if they decided to join the Air Force.

 

“I’ve been looking forward to this moment for the last 27 years,” he said. “I wanted to let the young people who grew up in my neighborhood know that there is another way. There were limited options where I came from and now most kids don’t understand how to get to college, so when you get to graduation, you’re stuck with ‘what’s left? What do you do?’ I was one of those kids. Instead of graduating and just fading away, I had a different dream and the Air Force has blessed me greatly.”

 

Bowen spoke one-on-one with many of the students as they observed firsthand the enormous aircraft on display. Many of them riddled with questions about what basic training is like and if they have to do things like jump out of perfectly good aircraft. Bowen explained that basic training wasn’t as wild as they might think and really was more about discipline, military education and physical fitness.

 

“We understand the value of giving back,” he continued. “We were blessed to have this opportunity to solicit to the schools in Dallas. I liked being able to dispel some of the mindsets they had about the military and shed light on all the opportunities the Air Force has to offer and the amazing quality of life standards we have. One of the girls said to me ‘well if I can just see where some of the Airmen live, I might decide today whether or not I’ll join the military.”

 

One of the highlights of the day seemed to be the dining facility, according to the career fair event planner, Capt. Steven Draughon. A majority of the students enjoyed learning about the different career fields, but they seemed to be highly interested in the living quarters and facilities like the dining hall that contribute the high quality of life standards Airmen get to experience, he said.

 

“Overall the entire day was excellent,” Draughon said. “We got a lot of excellent feedback from the school counselors and teachers who were there, including some of the students. The career fair really helped our recruiters get some leads that they normally don’t get. We ended up with 117 leads. Was it productive? Absolutely yes. Did we open the eyes of some of the students? Absolutely. I think our team did a good job of setting up and showing the students everything we could at Sheppard Air Force Base.”

 

If you or someone you may know is interested in becoming a part of the Air Force family, contact your local recruiter, or visit www.airforce.com for more information.