Boy Scouts cross into the blue
YOKOTA AIR BASE, JAPAN -- A group of Boy Scouts are stranded in the woods, put out a blazing fire, battle virtual enemies and fly an aircraft into the wild blue yonder. It may sound like the trailer for a summer blockbuster movie, but it's really what happened here June 17-22.
25 Boy Scouts from U.S. military installations across Japan gathered in the Kanto Region for an introductory military training week.
"We wanted to give the boys an experience they never had," said Spc. Randy Jones, a scout adviser from Misawa Air Base. "It's been a great week. The boy's had fun and they had the opportunity to work on their aviation merit badge and will complete several requirements for other badges."
The scouts' excitement-filled week began at Yokota with an opportunity to try their hands at the flight simulator at Yokota's Aero Club. Then they had the opportunity to fly a real airplane, the Cessna 172.
"Everyone had their chance to fly the Cessna. They were in control for the take-off and landing," Jones said.
After their brief aeronautical adventure, the scouts had a chance to meet with Brig. Gen. Jerry Harris, the vice commander of the 5th Air Force.
Harris, also an Eagle Scout, spoke to children about his experience as an F-16 pilot, detailing the process of becoming a pilot and the leadership opportunities he's had in the Air Force.
Following the meeting with the general, scouts participated in numerous advanced military activities, including: firefighting with the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron, military working dogs demonstration with the 374th Security Forces Squadron and the virtual firearms trainer at the combat arms training and maintenance facility.
The scouts' week of adventure ended with the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training at Tama Hills.
Staff Sgt. Robert Rogers, a SERE specialist at Yokota, taught scouts basic survival skills they would need to survive in the wilderness on their own.
"(We taught them some of the) basic things we would teach aircrew members," Rogers said. "Should they pursue an interest in the military, a lot of these skills will be already in place for them."
Chris Carter, 17, a Life Scout from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, said the training broadened his horizons.
"(This week) was fun. It was jam packed with really cool stuff like the K-9 actions and getting to touch real planes," Carter said. "The best part of the week was flying the Cessna. As soon as I did the flying, I immediately wanted to become a pilot."
Carter, who plans to major in astrophysics and pursue his goal of becoming an astronaut, said that he may join the military to become a pilot.
"Our goal is to inspire the children to set their future goals and achieve them," Jones said. "After all, that's what the scouts all about--teaching children how to be successful."