Vegas cadets visit NAS Fallon |

Vegas cadets visit NAS Fallon

Steve Ranson
NAS Fallon public affairs officer Zip Upham shows Army Junior ROTC cadets from southern Nevada last week the airfield from the tower’s observation deck.

Army Junior ROTC students from Southern Nevada spent part of their week-long spring camp at Naval Air Station Fallon and learning about the role the key military installation play in the nation’s defense.

The group of 138 cadets, who bunkered down at the Nevada Army National Guard’s Stead Training Center for the week, travelled to Fallon one week ago to tour part of the base and to take the elevator to the air control tower’s observation deck.

“The cadets spent some time in the tower watching the jets take off,” said Lt. Col. Patrick McKenna, senior Army instructor at Las Vegas High School.

McKenna said selected cadets came from various high schools that offer Army Junior ROTC such as Las Vegas, Bonanza, Chaparral, Cheyenne, Mojave and Pahrump.

Darleen Ramirez, a student at Cheyenne High School, said the tour was better than she expected.

“I was interested in the different aircraft,” she said, referring to a static display of aircraft located behind the main building of the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center.

Ramirez said she was impressed with the observation deck.

“It was cool,” she said. “We were up where we could see everything and saw the planes flying around.”

What caught Ramirez’s eye were the wide-open spaces that surround the sprawling Navy base.

“I thought the Navy was all about oceans,” said Anthony Novela, a sophomore at Las Vegas High School.

His perception of the Navy, however, changed, when he saw the jets and flight operations.

“Seeing the planes was very interesting,” Novela said, adding that he also learned how jets land and take off from aircraft carriers.

Retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Loyd Crathers enjoyed the visit to Northern Nevada. Crathers, now a senior Army instructor at Mojave High School, spent 25 years with the Nevada Army National Guard in Carson City after completing a three-year active-duty tour with the Army. He prepped the students for their Navy tour.

“I told them (the students) that this is one of the largest installations where the Navy trains fighter pilots,” Crathers said. “They are seeing a lot if interesting aircraft they wouldn’t see south.”

The cadets spent a day in Carson City, touring the capitol. They also had a side trip to Virginia City on Thursday.

Master Sgt. Robert Brown said the camp helps teach the students, who range from freshmen to seniors, how to work with each other, how to get along.

“The best thing is we take their phones away,” he said. “They quiver for about 15 minutes, then they start to interact, talk to each other.”

They also learned self confidence and responsibility. Their cellphones. though, were returned to them after the Virginia City excursion.

Oevrall, Brown said he was pleased with the welcome the group has received during the week.

“I must have had eight people come up and thank me for my service,” he said adding that doesn’t happen nearly as often in Las Vegas.

Geoff Dornan of the Nevada Appeal contributed to this article.