ROTC – do you have what it takes?

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Hrair H. Palyan
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The path to a commission in the U.S. Air Force requires a great deal of commitment and sacrifice.

One path to which many have chosen to commit is ROTC - a four-or two-year program based on AF requirements - designed to produce outstanding officers for the Air Force.

Located in Montgomery, Ala., the Air Force ROTC Headquarters commands 144 units operating at college and university campuses throughout the U.S.

Staff Sgt. Derek Camilleri, 28th Security Forces Squadron vehicle section NCO in charge, enlisted in the Air Force in May 2008, and recently gained acceptance to ROTC Detachment 035 at California State University Fresno, Calif.

"I could have finished college while enlisted, but I strayed from this path due to increased competition between Officer Training School applicants," Camilleri said. "Additionally, I felt ROTC would be a better fit due to the fact that I could attend a great university and obtain my degree through them rather than completing my degree through an online university."

Camilleri said there was a number of steps he needed to complete in order to be accepted by a ROTC program, including applying to a college, being interviewed by the commander of the ROTC detachment and completing his separation documents.

"Thankfully, I have a very supportive wife and family who understand that I may take quite a bit of a pay cut for a few years," said Camilleri. "We expect some hardship, however, the reward in the end will be more than worth it."

In addition to Air Force ROTC, each branch of service also has a specialized ROTC program geared toward preparing students to face and overcome challenges unique to each branch.

Airman 1st Class Robert Barnes, 28th SFS base defense operations controller, requested early separation from his four-year enlistment with the AF in order to pursue his dream of earning a commission with the U.S. Army.

"I had a never-ending feeling of unfinished business after leaving school early to join the Air Force," Barnes explained. "I was almost halfway done with my degree. When I finally found out I was approved for early separation, I was put on a conditional acceptance with an Army ROTC detachment pending my separation from the Air Force."

Barnes said he and his family will have to deal with drastic changes when he separates from the AF.

"I am married and my second child is on the way," noted Barnes. "The only benefit I have that others may not, is that my wife is working as a full-time registered nurse. We won't be living in poverty, but nonetheless, we will have only one income. I know it's going to be tough both mentally and physically, but I have to pursue my dream."

Camilleri added that he believes his experience as an enlisted Airman will greatly affect his leadership style when he is commissioned.

"Many of the officers with whom I've come in contact that are prior service seem to be able to relate to the enlisted force better than those who haven't," said Camilleri. "If it wasn't for my current leadership, which includes a couple of prior enlisted officers, I wouldn't have re-considered staying in the military. Both the enlisted leaders I've fallen under in the past and the officers currently over me now have greatly impacted me."

For more information on earning a commission through Air Force ROTC, visit