There are lessons to be found in every experience, even ones that do not turn out exactly as one had hoped.
Friday morning 160 cadets in the Smith-Cotton Junior High JROTC program were looking forward to what might have been a once in a lifetime opportunity: the chance to ride in a U.S. Army Black Hawk Helicopter.
Unfortunately, cloudy skies prevented the flights from occurring, but the cadets were given the opportunity to view the aircraft up close and to hear the presentation of two Missouri National Guard pilots and their crew chief from the 1/135 Reconnaissance Battalion.
The Black Hawks are a new addition to the Whiteman Air Force Base squadron, arriving at the base in October.
“It took us about five to seven minutes to get here this morning,” Chief Warrant Officer 5 Robert Moore Sr., pilot for the Black Hawk, told the cadets. “When you are flying at 120 mph you can get here rather quickly.”
Moore, who has been in the Air Force for 34 years and has been flying helicopters since 1990, told the Democrat prior to speaking to the cadets that Friday’s trip was one of the first events of its kind for the Battalion in a long time.
“Budget cuts had made it difficult to do many of these type events,” Moore said. “We were able to do this because of the request from the JROTC and it provides us with an excellent opportunity to promote the Guard.
“There are so many positives that the Guard can provide and opportunities for these young men and women that they may not know exist,” he added. “If they don’t see that we are out there and what we do then they don’t know the programs and benefits available to them.”
Moore commented that the event provided the crew with opportunities to hone their skills as well as provide an educational opportunity for the students.
“It’s really not a training session for us,” Moore said. “There really is no such thing as a simple mission even with an event like today.”
Weather conditions for the crew made it difficult for the pilots to see traveling to Sedalia and prevented a second Black Hawk from taking flight for the practice field at Smith-Cotton Junior High.
“We have to use a lot of math and science in what we do every day,” Chief Warrant Officer 4 Marcus Moore told the cadets. “I was using my knowledge of science in determining the weather conditions for your flights.
“Unfortunately, we can’t legally take you up today,” Moore told the disappointed cadets. “Safety has to be our No. 1 priority.”
All the members of the 1/135th Battalion told the students that obtaining their education was the most important goal they should focus on.
“For all of these young men and women the most important things they can do are to stay motivated and stay in school,” Staff Sgt. Crew Chief David Huggins said.
Moore Sr. agreed with Huggins’ assessment describing his experience as a commitment.
“Entering the service at 17 was the best decision I ever made in my life,” Moore Sr. said. “It taught me responsibilities and helped me to transition into becoming an adult.
“I was no longer being supervised by my parents when I joined and so responsibility became a major focus,” he added. “I was able to travel the world doing something I loved and I was paid while I was learning.”
Moore shared a similar statement with the cadets before the crew was required to return to Whiteman.
“I would tell all of you to stay in school and complete your education,” Moore said. “There is no better life than this.”
Lt. Col. Harry Cunningham, senior army instructor of the S-C JROTC program, said the district would attempt to reschedule the flights for the students in the upcoming weeks.
“It is a busy time of the year,” Cunningham said. “We will try to coordinate a time for their return but we are extremely grateful to these gentlemen and the Missouri National Guard for taking their time to come and speak with our students.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.