Air Force

Cadet Wing Commander of UT’s Air Force ROTC Detachment 825, Michelle Solsbery, holds the highest position an ROTC cadet can achieve. Solsbery’s duties as Wing Commander include delegating tasks, leading groups and preparing underclassmen for Field Training.
Photo Credit: Griffin Smith | Daily Texan Staff

A 5-year-old girl stares up at a row of jets ascending toward the clouds. White exhaust fumes streak the sky as the Thunderbirds, the air demonstration squadrons of the U.S. Air Force, perform synchronized loops. In this moment, the young girl, Michelle Solsbery, decides her future. She wants to fly.

Now in her last year in Air Force ROTC, Solsbery is on her way to earning a seat in the cockpit. 

“I’m worried about motion sickness,” Solsbery said. “But I’m really excited to get started and get into the real world.” 

Solsbery is the Cadet Wing Commander of Detachment 825, the AFROTC detachment at UT. Cadet Wing Commander is the highest position a cadet, or member of ROTC, can fill. 

Detachment 825 consists of about 75 cadets from UT, ACC, St. Edward’s University and Huston-Tillotson University. Solsbery, a political science senior at St. Edward’s University, joined the detachment during her second semester of college. 

As commander, she delegates tasks, leads the group and prepares underclassmen for Field Training, a three-week long summer program that second-year cadets must complete to be commissioned into the U.S. Air Force after they graduate college.

Training is especially rigourous in the spring, as the commander and other upperclassmen have to prepare underclassmen for Field Training, according to Solsbery.

“I think they typically want that stronger persona that the males often give off instead of a female in the spring semester,” Solsbery said. “I think I’m the first female in the spring for the past 10 years, so it’s really cool to be able to do that.”

Although only 33 percent of the Air Force cadets at UT’s detachment are women, three out of the past four commanders have been female. Colonel David Haase, the ROTC department chair at UT, said this is no accident. 

“They do very well,” Haase said. “I don’t know if it’s because they come in more mature or they have something to prove. The females are very strong. They’re committed and focused.”

Now in her second year in AFROTC, supply chain management sophomore Madison Glemser is training to earn a spot at Field Training this summer. 

The Air Force only admits a certain number of cadets each year from across the nation. Acceptance is based on a faculty assessment, grade point average, fitness tests and SAT scores.

Griffin Smith | Daily Texan Staff

“[The national board] doesn’t care if they are male or female,” Haase said. “It’s a tough competitive process, and making it through is just amazing.”

According to Glemser, being a woman in this program comes with challenges. She said her biggest struggle is leading the flight. Each flight, or individual class within the detachment, alternates flight commanders throughout the semester.

“When you’re marching the flight around and calling out commands, guys tend to have a stronger voice because they are deeper,” Glemser said. “It’s hard for the girls to have a stronger command presence, but it’s definitely possible.”

Italian senior Hannah Prague was the Cadet Wing Commander in the fall semester. Like Solsbery, Prague plans to fly for the Air Force. Her decision to join ROTC grew from her family’s history in the military. She has relatives who fought at Pearl Harbor, stormed the beach at Normandy and fought in Vietnam. 

“I wanted to go to college, but I still wanted to serve my country,” Prague said. “It was kind of a calling.”

Prague said the ROTC program is set up to hold both genders to the same standards.

“You’re a cadet first, and you’re a lady second,” Prague said. “It makes us stronger because it makes us be on the same level.”

Now in their last semester of college, both Solsbery and Prague have received their base assignments at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma and Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi, respectively. After graduation, they will be commissioned. Then, within 364 days, they will enter active duty and begin pilot training. 

“Whether you’re a woman or a man or whatever kind of income or ethnic background you come from, you can do this,” Prague said. “It’s a culture of competition here. You just have to fight like the rest of us.”

Monday’s federal government shutdown came with a long list of service disruptions, including closures of all the national parks, monuments and any other facilities or services deemed “non-essential.” While it’s certainly not critical to the functioning of the republic, one unexpected casualty has been college athletics.

Travel budgets have been frozen for athletics at the service academies and Navy has already had to cancel Tuesday’s soccer game against Howard University. Two of this weekend’s scheduled college football games are now in jeopardy: Air Force at Navy and Army at Boston College. 

Navy is in a favorable position here, as it funds its athletic programs through ticket sales, concessions and licensing. Army and Air Force use government funds for athletics, and so are in less control of their own spending. Boston College has offered to pay for Army’s travel to this Saturday’s game, and Navy has done the same for Air Force. 

Of course, neither of these brotherly acts are at all altruistic: The admirals at the Naval Academy and the Jesuit brothers at Boston College all know quite well the value of a home football date in comparison to the cost of a chartered plane. 

The U.S. Department of Defense is expected to announce Thursday whether Army’s players are allowed to get on a bus to Boston, and a Pentagon spokesman speculated Wednesday as to whether concession proceeds from the Naval Academy football program could be used to fund travel for the remainder of their season. 

It is difficult to determine what is more bothersome — that the soccer season at Navy was in jeopardy because of Congress’ obstinacy or that the nation’s military leaders have been scrambling for three days to arrange funding for a football game. Once again, the needs and well-being of student-athletes seem to be a peripheral consideration at best.

The administrations at the academies aren’t at fault here. Like the rangers at Yellowstone National Park or docents at the Smithsonian Institution, they are victims of out-of-touch decision-making and a business climate where public relations tend to wash out truth and common sense. 

This weekend’s games will probably be saved. But for the athletes at the service academies have been left in a week of limbo, not knowing if the practices they’re slogging through all afternoon will be for an inter-squad scrimmage or one of the biggest games on their schedule.

Young talent is becoming an asset for the Texas soccer team, which has had success shooting the ball but only holds a 4-3-1 record. 

“There’s times when we’re starting four freshmen and four or five sophomores,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “They’re a very young squad and the fact that they’re producing on that starting 11 is fantastic for the future of
the program.”

In Texas’ last  victory, a 3-1 win over the Air Force Academy, one goal came from sophomore forward Kelsey Shimmick and the two others came from freshman forward Jasmine Hart, her first career goals as a Longhorn. 

“We have a lot of offensive threats and the goals we scored against Air Force were world-class goals, with tons of dynamic movement and great services in to our forwards,” Kelly said. “There’s a continued hunger to put the ball in the back of the net, which is exciting in our final preparation for conference play.”

Shimmick has two goals and an assist so far in 2013 and has played at least 45 minutes in each of Texas’ games. In the Longhorns’ loss to Colorado College in their last outing, Shimmick led the team with three shots but could not turn them into points.

“There’s a little pressure because you don’t want to let the team down, but it’s very fulfilling whenever you can score and help the team to a victory,” Shimmick said.

In her first season with Texas, Shimmick scored three goals and had one
assist, becoming the fourth player and second freshman to score two goals in a Big 12 championship game. 

According to Shimmick, Kelly does not let players dwell on being younger, but instead reminds the players of why they’re on the team.

“[Coach Kelly] focuses on that we’re not divided by class,” she said. “We’re not a freshman, junior or sophomore — we’re a soccer player for the University so we just need to go out there and step up and do what we’ve done our whole lives.” 

Coming into the season, Hart was ranked the seventh-best player in Texas and No. 24 in the nation by She had a break-out game against Air Force with three shots, two on goal, both of which she sent to the back of the net. She has tallied 10 shots so far in her rookie season, six of them on goal. 

“I was expecting to work hard, I was hoping I would get a lot of playing time and come in and score, but I wasn’t sure that was going to happen,” Hart said about starting her career at Texas. “After this weekend, I realized I’ve gotten a lot of playing time and actually a good impact on the team. I was lucky that I got those two goals and it gave me a good boost of confidence.”

Both players said they are prepared to continue the season with high expectations and aspirations. Hart said now that she’s more confident she should be scoring goals, and Shimmick already had high goals set.

“My personal goal that I set with my dad is to get 15 goals in the season and I’m at two,” she said. “So it’s kind of far, but you have to set high goals in order to get anywhere.”

Texas soccer split its matches in a rainy Colorado Springs, Colo., this weekend, taking home a 3-1 win over the Air Force Academiy Friday, but falling to Colorado College 2-0 on Sunday.

“I’m really pleased with the result and that the players organized keeping possession of the ball in the second half,” said head coach Angela Kelly after the Air Force game.

In the match against the Falcons, the Longhorns went down early, allowing a goal in the 10th minute by Maddie Lundberg. But Texas evened the score just four minutes later as sophomore Kelsey Shimmick landed a shot in the upper-left corner of the net off a pass from freshman forward Marchelle Davis.

The game remained even for the rest of the first half, but a substitution to start Jasmine Hart in the second half proved productive when the freshman forward sunk two goals in six minutes.

“Jasmine Hart, two big-time goals, she really had a lot of composure, big time,” Kelly said. 

The first goal came after sophomore midfielder Lindsey Meyer’s goal kick, which snuck past the Falcons’ defense, where Hart quickly shot the ball from 25 yards out. Moments later, sophomore defender Ali Schmalz cleared a ball past the defensive line again, and Hart managed the goal from 25 yards away.

“I scored both of them from crossing the ball and I realized if we’re going to get the ball over the top then that’s our easiest way to score,” Hart said of her first two career goals.

The team did not have as much of an offensive spark against Colorado College, playing in the pouring rain after a nearly three-hour delay. The game was postponed in the sixth minute and moved from a grass field to a turf surface.

Colorado College’s Jessie Ayers scored in the 59th minute and junior Kaeli Vandersluis added insurance in the 83rd.

This was the first game of the season that Texas did not outshoot its opponent, only recording nine to the Tigers’ 15, but it did manage more shots on goal with seven to their four. Shimmick led the team with three shots, two on goal, but was unable to turn them into points.

Texas soccer will face off against Air Force and Colorado College this weekend in Colorado for its second road trip of the season, after sweeping two home matches in its last outings. 

In its last road trip, the Longhorns lost both games despite outshooting their opponents. Last weekend, the Longhorns were able to capitalize on a total 32 shots to beat Samford 2-0 and top Illinois State 2-1. Before the home stand, Texas had outshot opponents 62-29 on the season but only had one win to show for it.

Texas will play the Air Force Falcons, who hold a 1-3-1 record this season, on Friday. The team won its first match Sept. 8, beating Grand Canyon 1-0. The Falcons finished 5-9-3 in the Mountain West Conference in 2012.

Freshman Ashley Greco has been consistent through her first five career games, assisting on all three of the Falcons’ goals. Senior goalkeeper Kelly Stambaugh leads the Academy record in goals-against average, or goals allowed per 60 minutes of play, at 1.06. Stambaugh also ranks second in career shutouts with 14, and third in wins, minutes and saves for the program.

The Colorado College Tigers go into the weekend holding a 2-3-0 record so far this season, but will play a match against Ball State University on Friday before Sunday’s matchup against Texas. 

The Tigers competed in the Marquette Tournament last weekend, splitting their two matches with a 2-0 win over Loyola University of Chicago followed by a 3-1 loss to Marquette. Senior Lynn Froetscher has one goal and three assists, but sophomore Sarah Schweiss and freshman Chanisse Hendrix have two goals apiece on the season.

On offense, Texas will rely on junior midfielder Sharis Lachappelle, who totaled six shots and her first goal of 2013 against Illinois State, and junior Brooke Gilbert, who tallied her team-leading third goal in the same game. The Longhorns will also look to freshman defender Isabelle Kerr, who recorded an assist in the game and earned Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors.  

Sophomore goalkeeper Abby Smith stepped up against Illinois State, blocking a penalty kick in the 87th minute and recording three saves, securing her ninth career shutout. Those performances earned her Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week. Smith has played every minute in goal for the Longhorns in 2013 and features a .80 goals-against average.

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — A court-martial due to start in the case against a Texas Air Force basic training instructor accused in a sex scandal at a San Antonio air base was delayed without explanation Wednesday.

The trial of Master Sgt. Jamey Crawford had been scheduled to begin Wednesday afternoon at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. However, the San Antonio Express-News reports the courtroom remained empty of attorneys as the scheduled start time passed.

Finally Lt. Col. Mark Hoover, a lawyer with the Air Force training command, confirmed the postponement. He offered no explanation, other than “to preserve the integrity of the process.”

Crawford’s accused of wrongfully conducting a sexual relationship with a basic trainee, wrongfully serving alcohol to the trainee, adultery and making a false statement.

Printed on Thursday, September 6th, 2012 as: Texas court-martial case postponed

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Yale sophomore Andrew Hendricks has gotten used to receiving strange looks when he crosses the Ivy League campus in his Air Force uniform.

Hendricks, the only Air Force cadet at Yale, wears the uniform on days he drives to the University of Connecticut to train with the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, a program that had been barred from his university until faculty agreed to welcome it back beginning next fall.

Four decades after Vietnam War protesters cheered the departure of ROTC programs from some Ivy League universities, their return is bringing little more than a symbolic change to campuses where students are neither protesting or enlisting.

Yale, Harvard and Columbia all signed agreements this year to bring back ROTC. The antagonism with elite universities faded with the end of the draft, and much of the lingering opposition to the military dissolved with last year’s repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the policy that banned gays from serving openly in the armed services. The universities said the policy violated non-discrimination rules for campus organizations.

A tiny number of students at these schools pursue ROTC — a total of three at Yale and five at Columbia do so through off-campus arrangements — and those numbers are not expected to rise dramatically. But the agreements to revive ROTC are important to the schools, which once produced many of America’s most decorated military officers, and the armed services, which are regaining a presence at some of the country’s best-known universities.

Officials are excited about ROTC because it offers students another path to national leadership, the dean of Yale College, Mary Miller, said in an interview.

The change is likely to be minimal at Yale, as well as at Harvard and Columbia, where Naval ROTC gained formal recognition but students are expected to continue training at nearby campuses. At Harvard, which has nine midshipmen training at other Boston area schools, the Naval ROTC director said it would not make sense to create a new detachment.

Regardless of the numbers, advocates said it is important to the military to be represented on elite campuses.

“Symbols matter, and the symbolism of America’s leading universities declaring or even implying that there is something illegitimate about serving your nation in uniform was shameful,” said Graham Allison, director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and a former U.S. assistant secretary of defense.

But there is still some resistance in the Ivy League. Brown University’s president, Ruth Simmons, said this week that she continues to back the school’s policy of denying ROTC recognition as an academic program.

A music professor at Brown, Jeff Todd Titon, said many faculty feel there is no place for the military at a liberal arts college.
“The military is a chain of command organization where obedience is required, and that’s just antithetical to our ideals and goals,” he said.

Hendricks is looking forward to dropping the three-hour weekly commute to Storrs when ROTC comes to New Haven, and he also thinks it will make him feel more at home on his own campus.

“Knowing that I’ll be doing this for Yale, I’ll feel more school pride,” he said.

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Josh Seefried poses for a photo with his book in Philadelphia

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — J.D. Smith came into being when a gay student group in upstate New York needed a speaker to talk about the U.S. military’s ban on openly gay troops. In the 16 months since then, he advised the Pentagon on the policy, became an oft-quoted media commentator on the topic and was a White House guest when President Barack Obama signed the bill paving the way for the ban’s appeal.

When the 17-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy went away on Tuesday, so did J.D. Smith, the name a 25-year-old Air Force officer assumed to shield his identity as he engaged in high-wire activism that could have destroyed on his career. Even if no one asks, Air Force First Lt. Joshua David Seefried is telling.

“It’s all about leading now,” Seefried said as he prepared to come out to his superiors, put a picture of his Air Force pilot boyfriend on his office desk and update his personal Facebook profile to reflect his sexual orientation. “Those are things I feel like I should do because I guess that is what a leader would do. If we all stay in the closet and don’t act brave, then the next generation won’t have any progress.”

At Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, Seefried works in finance, oversees a staff of 20 and is attached to the 87th Air Base Wing. Twice this year, he was set to deploy to the Middle East, and felt conflicted when his orders were canceled only because going overseas would have put J.D. Smith out of commission. A handful of friends at work know he is gay. Only one knows about OutServe, the underground network for gay military personnel he co-founded last year.

Although he expects only a fraction of the 65,000 gay men and lesbians estimated to be serving in the armed forces to reveal themselves at first, Seefried will not be alone. On Tuesday, his organization’s magazine will publish an issue featuring photographs and biographies of him and 100 other gay service members. OutServe, which has grown to 4,300 members in more than 40 chapters from Alaska to Iraq, has had an exceptionally aggressive rise since its February 2010 launch. From the start, Seefried and a tech-savvy civilian friend, Ty Walrod, saw its mission as two-fold: to ease the isolation of gay service members and to educate the public about the price of requiring them to serve in silence.

Now that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is history, Seefried is looking forward to handing off his leadership role. He will promote a book of essays by gay service members he edited.
But first, he had to make it through Tuesday without knowing how his co-workers would respond to his sexual orientation.

“You take a chance and you have to hope everything is OK. I think everything is going to be more than OK,” he said. “That kind of family-ness I see in the Air Force, that is going to be mine, too.”