Jenks Civil Air Patrol Cadet Joins Okla. Air National Guard Cyber Team
By Capt. Brandon Lunsford
On July 14, Jenks Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Cadet Lt. Col. Bailey Lunsford stepped into the office of Technical Sergeant Cory Shaw, the senior recruiter at the 138th Fighter Wing of the Tulsa Air National Guard. Lunsford’s six years of serving and training in the Civil Air Patrol culminated in this meeting.
Lunsford achieved the CAP Billy Mitchell Award, which less than 15 percent of CAP cadets achieve, in April 2017. Mitchell cadets who enlist in the Air Force enter the service at the advanced grade of E-3, Airman First Class.
“Being part of the Air National Guard team helps airmen in many different ways when it comes to their career path and college goals,” Shaw explained. “It lets them maintain control of their future by allowing them to keep their education a priority by serving one weekend a month and two weeks a year. It also allows them to travel when they want, since our travel opportunities are voluntary and our career fields transfer to the civilian field very well. Being able to maintain control of their future is important to this generation and we understand that. That is why we allow them to decide what career path they want and how they want to get there. We give them all of the tools that are needed to be successful.”
Lunsford has joined the ranks of the Oklahoma Air National Guard’s 138th Fighter Wing as part of its Cyber Operations team. She will be completing her associate degree in Mechanical Engineering at Tulsa Community College and plans to transfer to Oklahoma State University’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program while earning triple bachelor’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering and Computer Engineering.
“CAP’s aerospace education program fueled my fascination with STEM; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics,” Lunsford stated. “To the point that I decided to attend Tulsa Technology Center’s two-year STEM Academy.”
“Bailey was in a rigorous, college prep engineering program from Project Lead the Way,” stated Debbie Waken, the Tulsa Tech STEM Academy counselor. “She was not comfortable with just knowing the coursework, she mastered it and had a 4.0+ GPA from Tulsa Tech. She always went the extra mile to excel and it showed in her grades.”
“Being in the military and getting your college degree will define your life in such a profound way,” Maj. Jamie Underwood, Director of Personnel for the 138th Fighter Wing, stated. “You’ll quickly discover how successful, driven, and resilient you really can be. We all want the chance to prove to ourselves that we can be ‘more’, regardless of where that motivation comes from. The Guard and college offers that chance, and although it takes a leap of courage and faith to become part of the 1 percent, our Airmen are a testament that hard work and diligence pay off.”
“The first thing that I noticed about Bailey was that she is a very determined individual,” continued Shaw. “She knows what she wants to do and how she wants to get there. I also noticed that she is very responsible. I know that I could give her a task to complete and it would get completed without any hesitation.”
Lunsford has voluntarily served in the Civil Air Patrol’s Oklahoma Wing for six years. Lunsford’s journey with CAP started in August 2014 at the age of 12, along with her brother who is four years older than she is.
“The experiences I had during my first two years in CAP shaped me to be the cadet I am today,” Lunsford reflected. “I remember my first encampment, a few months after I joined. I was nervous, not sure what to expect, but determined to do my best.”
“I’ve attended six encampments.” Lunsford mentioned with a smile. “In my second year, I went through staff training. I’ve served in various roles as encampment staff in the years since. Last year I commanded the Cadet NCO Academy where I was responsible for the training and instruction of cadet noncommissioned officers who came from Oklahoma and surrounding states.”
“Bailey is a natural leader, she gets it,” Staff Sergeant Dan Golden, CAP, one of the unit’s Leadership Education Officers, commended. “She cares about her mission and knows her job, but more importantly, cares about her people. The balance of those things is what makes a great leader. I’ve been proud to know her as a cadet and am excited to see where she goes in life.”
Cadet command is the ultimate challenge for a cadet officer. It is an enormous test of leadership skill, especially one’s ability to articulate a vision and point all cadets toward meaningful goals. The position stands at the epicenter of the squadron: the cadet commander is the most visible cadet, a role model for the entire cadet corps, and the liaison between the senior staff and the cadet staff.
“Stepping into my first command was exciting,” Lunsford said. “It was also a little scary and everything in between. As commander I was responsible for the entire cadet unit, from training and education to activities and exercise. It can be overwhelming if you do not have a solid team working with you. I am proud of my team; they are the reason for the success we shared.”
“The Jenks Flight is a fairly new flight,” stated Major Tina Nazarian, CAP, the flight’s commanding officer. “I am extremely proud that we had Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Lunsford at the helm of the cadet unit in the formative stages of the flight. She brought with her a unique set of experiences, talents and skills that proved to be exactly what we needed to train up the next generation of cadets. The Air National Guard will have an asset with that young lady.”
“As I approach the end of my cadet career,” Lunsford continued. “I cannot help but reflect on the experiences I was privileged to have; powered flight, working toward my private pilot’s license, the encampments, the summer activities across the country, there is just so much. I wish every 12 to 18-year-old Oklahoman would take advantage of the opportunities CAP can provide for them. Most of all, I am going to remember the relationships. The people that make up local CAP units, volunteering their time, resources and energy, are truly the heroes in my book. I am so thankful for them.”
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