Prior military experience helps ROTC students seeking officer positions


Cadet Tyler Kuns-Windisch salutes a fellow cadet before she falls into line to march from Terrace Hall to the M.A.C. Annex on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014.

Mary Booth

The ROTC program at Kent State is full of men and women that are all striving to become officers at the end of their college careers. Some of these cadets already have prior military experience that will assist them as they continue the ROTC program.

Andrew Altizer, senior computer science major and a cadet in the Air Force ROTC program, was enlisted eight years in the Air Force. Altizer said he held many positions that gave him a lot of great experience and ultimately helped him prepare for ROTC.

“My main job was F-16 avionics, so I basically maintained the computer systems on the fighter planes,” Altizer said. “I also worked on MQ-1 predators.” A MQ-1 predator, Altizer explained, is an unmanned aerial vehicle that works like a remote-controlled aircraft.

Not only did he work in this position, but Altizer also worked in an electronic warfare squadron.

“It was a test base for everything new that got developed for the F-15s and F-16s,” he said. “Everything that was going to get put out by the Air Force went through where I worked.”

Altizer has been stationed all around the world. He spent four months on a naval base in Africa and five months working on aircrafts in Iraq, but he is not the only cadet who has prior military experience.

Since 2010, Tyler Kuns-Windisch, junior aeronautics major and Air Force ROTC program cadet, has been enlisted in the Air Force and continues to devote his time to many assignments.

Kuns-Windisch currently holds the position of senior Airman at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Youngstown, Ohio, where he works as a crew chief for the C-130 cargo aircrafts.

“I specialize in the Department of Defenses’ one and only aerial spray unit,” Kuns-Windisch said. “So we go around to other bases to fulfill their needs in whatever ways we can.”

Being familiar with the Air Force reserves, Kuns-Windisch said he enjoys the opportunities to teach his fellow cadets all he has learned over the last four years.

“I like being able to teach what I’ve learned through basic training, technical school and working on base,” Kuns-Windisch said. “There are three of us that have had a prior enlistment, so we have all of this knowledge to share with the other cadets. And that’s why I like to do it because it’s going to benefit them even more, by learning that side of everything from us.”

Andrew Chewning, senior justice studies major and a cadet in the Army ROTC program, has been enlisted in the National Guard since 2011. Chewning said he has to go to drill once a month, and in the summertime he has to go to advanced training for approximately two weeks.

Chewning explained how he has been able to gain the perspective of an enlisted soldier by being in the National Guard.

“If you’re going to be a leader, you need to be able to understand the people under you and be able to relate to them,” Chewning said. “One of the biggest qualities of leadership is trust, and if your men can’t trust you, then you’re not going to be very successful.”

By joining the National Guard, Chewning said he will understand the life of a private in the military. He explained how this will be very beneficial to him when he gets commissioned as an officer through the ROTC program.

The Kent ROTC website explains that cadets learn valuable military training, leadership skills and self-discipline by going through the program. Because of prior military involvement, some of the cadets in the program have already begun to posses some of these traits, and they believe it will only benefit them as they finish their journey through ROTC.

For more information about ROTC at Kent State University check Kent States ROTC web page.

Mary Booth is the military and veterans reporter for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].