From Crows to Os

  • Published
  • By Capt. Benjamin Aronson
  • 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing Public Affairs
The 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing is bidding farewell to two of its non-commissioned officers as they prepare to leave the wing and the enlisted corps behind to head to Officer Training School (OTS) at Maxwell Air Force Base, AL.

U.S. Air Force Technical Sgt. Ryan Benedict, 350th SWW command chief exec, and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ericka Woolever, 350th SWW public affairs specialist, both members of the Wing Staff Agency were selected to become officers within a month of each other.

Woolever, who was among 99 selectees out of 792 applicants for OTS, called her family immediately after finding out.

“The first person I told was my mom, she is my biggest supporter, and she has always known this was my goal,” said Woolever. “I know my mom wishes we lived closer, and in a way, being selected was proof that all the time spent apart wasn’t just for nothing. To me it's proof I am achieving my dreams.”

Being selected on her first attempt was a humbling experience for Woolever, who will be continuing her public affairs career as a public affairs officer. She thanked all of her mentors for guiding her on the path to commissioning.

“There have been various situations where I felt lost or unsure of or I just didn’t know the answer and I always reached out to one of my mentors to help me through,” said Woolever. “I believe each of them played a pivotal role in the process of applying for OTS; some have helped me to become a better Airmen, while others have taught me new skills and taught me to look at things from a different lens. Each one of them made me a better leader.”

Benedict, was chosen among 57 other OTS rated board selectees out of 255 applicants, is slated to become a combat system officer and found out during a senior enlisted leader meeting from the wing commander.

“First thing in my head was ‘no way, this isn’t real’,” said Benedict. “This was my fourth time applying to OTS, so I told myself it would be the last time I applied.”

Benedict joined the U.S. Air Force back in 2009 as a pararescueman but was injured and joined the maintenance career field working on electronic warfare pods. He saw going to OTS not only as a better opportunity to support his family, but as a chance to fly.

“I’m fast paced – I like energy and operate well under stress,” said Benedict.

Both Benedict and Woolever look to empower Airmen and bring out their true potential as characteristics they hope to bring to the officer corps.

“I know there is a lot of potential in everyone no matter the rank or education level,” said Benedict. “You always have someone who has a great idea or a better way of doing things. I want to be able to bridge that and have mutual respect across the enlisted and officer side.”