A big saying at Robins Air Force Base is "success here equals success over there," meaning what happens on the base is crucial to the Air Force's missions around the world. What happens outside of the base gates can also play a big role in the success of Robins and the Air Force.
Junior ROTC cadets at Warner Robins High School play a role in that success. The program lays a strong foundation for students to build an interest and possibly even a future career in the Air Force.
Senior cadet Christian Nobles says he had an idea of the expectations when he joined the ROTC program. His dad served in the U.S. Army.
"He did teach me how to drill and he did teach me how to march before I got in," he says, but Nobles would learn so much more over the next four years.
"You get used to that uniform, get used to that drill, the leadership, and the discipline," he says. "So it kind of prepares you for your future."
He and fellow senior cadet Diana Matibe hope that future involves serving in the Air Force. Both students come from military families, but they say many cadets in the program do not.
Matibe says, "ROTC gives them the opportunity to see what it's like. What is the lifestyle of it? What do they do? What do we teach?"
Nobles agrees that non-military students sometimes get more out of the ROTC program.
"They're able to feel part of something, like a family, and they're able to come out and be a leader," he says.
The core values and other lessons taught in the program mixed with a lot of dedication and hard work breeds continued success for all of the cadets.
Not only have they swept several county-wide competitions, they're a Distinguished Unit with Merits and exceeded standards on their latest round of inspections.
Though multiple classrooms are lined with ROTC trophies, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Barrett says the true measure of their success is in the sheer size of the group, nearly 200 strong, and in the high-flying goals these cadets achieve in ROTC and beyond.
"We give them these leadership opportunities, and the ones that take advantage of it have such a leg up on everybody else when they leave here, and not just in the military but in whatever they choose to do," he says. "They have that set of core values to guide them."
At least once a year, the cadets get to visit Robins and meet with airmen from different groups and squadrons. They also get to participate as color guard members for many military ceremonies.
Lieutenant Colonel Barrett says that partnership with the base is a big inspiration for so many of his students to join the military later on. He says the number of his students who go on to serve varies from year to year, but it's almost always well above the national rate of only five percent.