For Ashley B. Doyle, summer vacation now means arising at 4 a.m. each day to start a rigorous, daily routine that most sophomore and junior college students would cringe at the thought of having to do.
Doyle, daughter of Richard and Sherry Doyle of Greencastle, is currently an Air Force ROTC cadet participating in field training, as well as a mock Air and Space Expeditionary Force deployment, mandatory for all individuals pursuing a commission as an officer through Air Force ROTC.
During this 28-day training, the cadets are pushed to the limit through stressful and physical situations that evaluate their ability to become an officer and help develop their team building skills.
"I am learning how to make decisions quickly in stressful situations," said Doyle, who graduated in 2008 from North Putnam High School, and is currently attending Indiana University. "Many of us have been put into leadership positions in which we are in charge of many people and lots of equipment."
Doyle is one of almost 2,400 cadets from colleges and universities nationwide that will participate in one of six rotations at Maxwell this summer. The course is divided into three phases: The first 11 days are devoted to classroom work, drill, dorm maintenance, and time management. They also participate in a leadership reaction, assault, and obstacle course; try to qualify on an M-9 pistol; and learn hand-to-hand combat with trained Air Force Combative instructors.
The cadets are then airlifted by a C-130 aircraft to Camp Shelby, Hattiesburg, Miss., where they will experience a mock deployment, simulating what it would be like in Iraq or Afghanistan. Here Doyle and the other cadets will conduct convoy missions, learn basic warfare tactics, shoot the M-16 assault rifle, and march over enemy terrain.
For Doyle, the transition from cadet to eventual commissioning as a second lieutenant will be a challenging one.
"This has been a pretty difficult tasking, but nothing I can't handle," said Doyle. "The most difficult part for me is keeping track of so many people and so much equipment while you still have a million other things to do."
Upon returning to Maxwell, Doyle and the others will put their newly learned marching skills into work and perform a graduation parade. When they return to their colleges and universities in the fall, they will become leaders of their detachments, and bring them one step closer to an Air Force career.
"This course is essentially preparing me to be the best Air Force officer that I can be in the future," said Doyle.
"I am planning to graduate in 2012 with a degree in history. Hopefully I will be commissioned in the Air Force and receive a navigator slot."
Although Doyle and her fellow cadets won't get much rest and relaxation this summer, their futures are looking a lot more brighter like the yellow bars they will be wearing upon their shoulders in a couple of years as second lieutenants in the Air Force.