High school counselors, students tour 184th IW


High school counselors from various parts of Kansas visited the 184th Intelligence Wing at McConnell Air Force Base, Oct. 26. The visitors received mission briefings and toured facilities during the one-day event. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt McCoy)


By Master Sgt. Matt McCoy, 184th Public Affairs

The 184th Intelligence Wing hosted a one-day tour for high school counselors at McConnell Air Force Base, Oct. 26. The tour of the Air National Guard complex introduced the visitors to cyber, intelligence and IT related careers offered by the wing.

The event was part of community outreach initiatives launched by the 184th IW earlier this year.

Senior Master Sgt. Clayton Reed, human resources advisor, 184th IW, contacted counselors from around the state.

“I went out to a lot of the schools and said, ‘We’ve got a unique opportunity that we’re not often able to give to the general public,’” said Reed. “I was trying to give them our sense of community that we have here in the Air National Guard.”

To kick things off, the counselors received a mission brief that explained many components of the 184th IW and how the unit fits into the Air Force, Kansas Air National Guard and the city of Wichita.

The group then visited the 134th Air Control Squadron, which specializes in controlling air traffic in combat air space and the 299th Network Operations Security Squadron, which provides computer network capabilities for the entire Air National Guard.

The counselors seemed surprised at the career options offered by the 184th.

“That’s why I go to these things,” said Len Smalling, guidance counselor, Nickerson High School. “I’m thinking about my students and my technology and computer classes, and seeing if they can use these skills both in the military and out there in the civilian world. They need to know that it’s not just a one or the other, but it can be both.”

Col. Dave Weishaar, commander, 184th Intelligence Wing, speaks to high school counselors and students during a visit to McConnell Air Force Base, Oct. 26. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt McCoy)

The visitors were intrigued in the part-time aspect of the Air National Guard, combined with paid training, higher education and certification opportunities. These points were emphasized at a lunchtime question and answer panel during which Airmen in the wing expressed the benefits of serving.

The afternoon was complete with an overview of the 161st Intelligence Squadron.

“I enjoyed seeing the young man talk to us earlier about things that he does,” said Smalling. “Anytime we can match young kids with young military service personnel and tell them what’s going on out there, and when they see the things that go on in an intelligence field, it’s a really important area.”

“It’s good to know what’s available for the kids locally,” said Smalling.

In addition to the high school counselors, twelve students in a computer technology class from Wichita High School Heights joined the tour.

Senior Airman Rachel Mercer, materiel management specialist, 184th Logistics Readiness Squadron, talks about her experience with the Air National Guard during a question and answer panel. The panel was part of a tour hosted by the 184th Intelligence Wing, Oct. 26. Mercer, joined by other Airmen from the wing, answered questions asked by visiting high school counselors and students. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Matt McCoy)