Former Lt. Colonel’s Return by Cadet 2nd Lt. Gupton

Ryan Aquino Air Force Reserves


Photo provided by Azeya Gupton

Azeya Gupton, Guest Writer

A former cadet who graduated basic training and went into the Air Force Reserves recently returned to Merrill F. West High School with some advice for the new cadets. Ryan Aquino was the cadet squadron commander during the first year of the AFJROTC program at West High. Below is what he had to say to the current and future cadets, as well as an interview between him and the JROTC Public Affairs Editor. 

How was Basic Training? 

It was interesting in the way that is wasn’t really as daunting as it seems. It’s more like they break you, in order to make a better version of you in their eye. It was an interesting ride with a lot of time to think and reflect. You get to learn as an individual as well as in a group.  

What made you decide to join the Air Force? 

It was the experience to do something different and become more versatile. The benefits are great and it’s an amazing family. 

Were there times that you regretted your decision?  

Mainly during training, because it sucks in the moment but there’s a greater gain at the end. I regret not pushing myself and putting myself more forward. 

Did the AFJROTC program prepare you for the Air Force? 

Yes it did. Drill, cadence, PT, and just knowing basic Air Force knowledge and background as well as knowing military lingo helped me a lot. 

Any advice for current or future cadets? 

“Don’t give up. Don’t think anything is ever too hard to accomplish especially when there’s other people right next to you going through the same thing. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and enjoy it — every single bit. Just don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.