Ellsworth Airmen slated for commissioning

  • Published
  • By Airmen 1st Class Josephine Pepin
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Three Airmen were selected for Officer Training School (OTS) from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, in July 2023.

Tech. Sgt. Marcus Lonn, 28th Bomb Wing Legal Office Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of Military Justice, Staff Sgt. Michael Swenson, 34th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics technician, and Airman 1st Class Emily Ware, 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron aircraft parts store technician.

The process lasted around four to five months for each candidate and included a variety of application forms, performance reviews, college transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a board assessment. Applicants are required to have a Bachelor’s degree and take the Air Force Officer Qualification Test (AFOQT) with an exceptional score.

Lonn was chosen to become a Force Support Squadron (FSS) officer where his job will encompass management of the base gym, lodging, services facilities such as the dining facility, and the Military Personnel Flight. Originally enlisted to work in Air Traffic Control eight years ago, Lonn retrained to work as a Judge Advocate paralegal and discovered his strength and passion in personnel management.

“FSS was my number one choice because what you can do is so diverse,” said Lonn. “It allows for a lot of growth in that aspect, and you get to meet a lot of people in different avenues.”

Different from the other two selectees, Swenson's OTS selection was for a rated position. A rated officer focuses on higher technical skills and mission execution, such as air battle managers, pilots, or combat systems officers (CSO). Swenson is slotted to become a CSO, a position that entails running the in-flight operations such as the navigation, communication, and weapons systems for a specific aircraft. For Swenson, this is the perfect way to grow in a hands-on way; learning new systems and technical skills are the most rewarding parts of the job for him.

“When I first got to Ellsworth, I really enjoyed learning the job and how everything works,” said Swenson. “I wanted something that would have a learning curve and be more hands-on in executing the mission.”

Ware will become a Public Affairs Officer (PAO), a position that requires being a liaison between the Air Force and civilian sector at the local and global level. PAO’s effectively communicate the mission and facilitate positive relations with local and Air Force communities. She enlisted with a bachelor's degree, with the intent of learning what the Air Force was like at the lower ranks before rising to the higher leadership levels required of an officer.

"To be a leader, I think you need to see it from both sides first," said Ware. "Having that enlisted background as an officer translates into knowing what's happening on the ground floor differently."

All three would not be where they are today without a support system. For Lonn, he knew he wanted to stay in the military for 20 years and retire. One of his supervisors from a previous base commissioned and inspired Lonn to want to commission, too, which came to fruition with the help of his leadership at Ellsworth. Swenson also had someone who was selected for OTS help him on his journey as he grows in his career and follows in the footsteps of his family who have served. Ware's drive is closely tied to her admiration for her dad, an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. She found a lot of support and help not only in her leadership at Ellsworth but also in the many online communities tailored to helping people with the same dream.

Overall, each of them had a similar message for those interested in applying: “The process can be hard, but don’t give up and use the people and resources available to you.”

For Ware, that meant fighting to meet deadlines amidst severe South Dakota snowstorms that closed some base facilities and pushed her date to take the Air Force Officer Qualification Test (AFOQT), a critical component of her OTS application. However, utilizing the people and resources that supported her helped her immensely in the process.

“One of the captains in our squadron who also got picked up through [the Senior Enlisted Commissioning Program] worked with me,” said Ware. “It was a team effort and I'm very appreciative of everything that I had going into it and the leadership that supported me the whole time.”

To learn more about the OTS process or how to apply, please visit https://www.airforce.com/training/military-training/ots/overview.