Early on the morning of Jan. 29, Lt. Gen. Michael T. Plehn stood before a rapt audience of more than 50 Air Force ROTC cadets gathered at the University of Miami and explained what it takes to succeed as aspiring military officers (and anyone else who strives to succeed).
When he was finished speaking, it was clear to everyone in the room why Gen. Plehn has earned the rank of a three-star Air Force general, as befits the Military Deputy Commander of U.S. Southern Command headquartered in Doral.
Even those who were not in uniform were left ruminating about his inspiring words and how they might serve to guide the young cadets to a career in the world’s mightiest air force.
“You’re doing something the vast number of Americans have not done. You are taking steps to serve in the U.S. Air Force, one of the premier meritocracies of the world. And for that, I have tremendous respect for you,” General Plehn said at the close of his remarks.
Most of the cadets in the audience received scholarship checks handed out by Miami business leader Raul Mas, who presides over the South Florida Aerospace Scholarship Corporation (SFASC), an organization founded 25 years ago by retired Air Force Col. Stan Bodner. Moneys raised by the group provide scholarships for aspiring U.S. Air Force officers enrolled in one of 10 ROTC units in South Florida. Mas invited Gen. Plehn and Brigadier Gen. David Piffarerio, commander of the 482nd Fighter Wing at Homestead Air Reserve Base, as the guests of honor.
“It is a real privilege to recognize these outstanding cadets that will serve our Air Force — and our country — well into the future. America is in good hands. I also thank their leadership cadre and Lt Gen. Plehn and Brigadier Gen. Piffarerio for their strong support,” Mas said.
Other notable members of the audience included Jacqueline Menendez, University of Miami vice president of Communications; Lt. Col. Ross Vedder and Cpt. Clifford Pigford of University of Miami’s Detachment 155, Air Force ROTC; Paul Novack, Bernard Schumacher and Benny Benitez, board members of SFASC; and Rod Huete, president of the Air Force Association, 317th Chapter.
Air Force ROTC programs are offered at more than 1,000 colleges and universities across the country. Students who enroll as cadets earn college degrees while developing the leadership skills and knowledge necessary to become officers in the Air Force through formal classes, visits to military bases and assumption of cadet positions of increasing responsibility. The scholarships made available by South Florida Aerospace Scholarship Corporation assist the cadet-students with meeting their financial needs. Detachment 155, located at the University of Miami, has graduated approximately 3,200 commissioned U.S. Air Force officers during its 50-year history.
For more information about Air Force ROTC programs in South Florida, visit www.afrotc.com or call 305-284-2870 or email at email@example.com. For information about the South Florida Aerospace Scholarship Corporation, visit www.sfasc.us.