Nathan C. Ellis, son of Kevin Ellis and Miriam Cope, is an Air Force ROTC cadet participating in field training, as well as a mock Air and Space Expeditionary Force deployment, mandatory for all individuals pursuing a commission as an officer through Air Force ROTC.
During this 28-day training, the cadets are pushed to the limit through stressful and physical situations that evaluate their ability to become an officer and help develop their team building skills.
"While going through field training, I have learned that leadership comes in many forms," said Ellis, who graduated in 2008 from East Paulding High School. "I have been placed in many stressful situations which require us to step up to the challenge. Things as simple as getting outdoors quickly can become a group project lasting 20 minutes."
Ellis is one of almost 2,400 cadets from colleges and universities nationwide that will participate in one of six rotations at Maxwell this summer. The course is divided into three phases: The first 11 days are devoted to classroom work, drill, dorm maintenance, and time management. They also participate in a leadership reaction, assault, and obstacle course; try to qualify on an M-9 pistol; and learn hand-to-hand combat with trained Air Force Combative instructors.
The cadets are then airlifted by a C-130 aircraft to Camp Shelby, Hattiesburg, Miss., where they will experience a mock deployment, simulating what it would be like in Iraq or Afghanistan. Here Ellis and the other cadets will conduct convoy missions, learn basic warfare tactics, shoot the M-16 assault rifle, and march over enemy terrain.
For Ellis, the transition from cadet to eventual commissioning as a second lieutenant will be a challenging one.
"Field training has been very stressful. Becoming a team made up of 24 cadets that you don't know is a difficult task," said Ellis.
Upon returning to Maxwell, Ellis and the others will put their newly learned marching skills into work and perform a graduation parade. When they return to their colleges and universities in the fall, they will become leaders of their detachments, and bring them one step closer to an Air Force career.
"This course is allowing me to be placed in circumstances which bring stresses, much like what my career in the Air Force will bring," said Ellis.
"I would like to fly fighter jets in the future. I always have and am continuing to pursue my goal."
Although Ellis and his fellow cadets won't get much rest and relaxation this summer, their futures are looking a lot more brighter like the yellow bars they will be wearing upon their shoulders in a couple of years as second lieutenants in the Air Force.