Caleb Daughhetee took the scenic route on his way from Charleston, Mo., to Southeast
Missouri State University. After graduating from Kelly High School, he went to Colorado
Springs, Colo., to visit the prestigious Air Force Academy.
"After seeing the academy, I knew this was it," Daughhetee said.
He immediately cancelled his visits to West Point and the Naval Academy. He accepted the Air Force Academy's scholarship and the chance to play baseball for the school. After some contemplation, though, he ultimately decided the highly structured academy life was not for him, and he made a decision to leave the academy.
Daughhetee, however, was still very interested in serving in the Air Force as an officer. His continued interest led him to Southeast's Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, which had the added benefit of being close to home. Caleb ultimately join the Air Force ROTC program, a supplemental academic leadership program designed to prepare university students to become Air Force officers, at Southeast.
Next, he tried out for and made the Redhawks' baseball team but decided not to play.
"I wanted to focus on my studies and work at being a good cadet in the program", Daughhetee said.
His hard work has now paid off after being in ROTC for just one semester. His leadership skills, grade point average, dedication and participation in cadet corps activities contributed to his selection for the highly competitive Commanders Leadership Scholarship. The scholarship covers tuition and fees, $900 a year, for books and a monthly stipend up to $500.
Caleb is a junior history major and a cadet in the Air Force ROTC Professional Officers Corps. He recently has been recognized by Air Force leadership as a distinguished graduate (Top Gun) of his flight at Air Force ROTC's Field Training this past summer.
"This is the first time in my 14 years in ROTC that I have seen a cadet from Southeast Missouri State University win this prestigious award," said Vance Pawielski, communications coordinator for Air Force ROTC at Southeast.
Based on meeting several core requirements, Caleb was chosen through a nationwide, selective process to attend Air Force ROTC Field Training held at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
ROTC Field Training, summer camp, as it is affectionately called by the cadets, is actually a four-week intense orientation program which includes survival training, junior officer preparation, physical fitness and familiarization with the function and organization of an Air Force base and its agencies. The purpose of the training is to further develop their leadership potential and to give the Air Force the opportunity to evaluate the cadet as a potential officer.
"It was tough but I enjoyed it. I am not saying I would like to do it again, though," Daughhetee laughed.
Currently, Caleb is a flight commander responsible for the training of 22 prospective field training candidates not only at Southeast but also at Southern Illinois University-Carbondalel. He is now passing on his knowledge and wisdom to those cadets so they will be better prepared to meet the challenges of field training.