SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. -- --
Mark the A-4B Skyhawk at the Selfridge Military Air Museum as clean - spotless in fact - thanks to about two dozen local Sea Cadets.
The Sea Cadets recently adopted the aircraft at the museum and gathered on a weekend day to give the aircraft a wash. Each of the more than 30 vintage military aircraft, all of which are on display outdoors, at the museum has a sponsor organization that washes and cares for that aircraft. The Sea Cadets of the Tomcat Squadron, which meets at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, had been on the museum's waiting list to adopt an aircraft for several years.
The adopt-an-aircraft project is just one of many projects that the local Sea Cadets, all middle and high school students, work on throughout the year, said Sea Cadets Lt. Cdr. Sandra Ferrell, the unit's commander.
"All of our activities are designed to build teamwork, discipline and related skills to the cadets," Ferrell said.
Leading the effort during the washing project was Sea Cadet Chief Petty Officer Elizabeth Grifka, a senior at Chippewa Valley High School, not far from Selfridge.
As a Sea Cadet for the past four years, she's taken on a leadership role in the program.
"My job is to make sure all the Cadets are squared away, that everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing," she said.
Grifka, who said she hopes for a future career as a nurse and is interested in serving in the Air Force or Navy in the future, said she loves being in the Sea Cadets and is grateful for the opportunities she has had in the program.
Over the summer, she attended a Sea Cadet training program and received substantial first aid and basic emergency medical training. The previous summer, she attended a scuba diving program. The Sea Cadets conduct training with their local chapter and then are able to select specialized summer camps that align with their personal interests.
"Being in the Sea Cadets has taught me a lot of responsibility," Grifka said. "I think it is a great program."
Ferrell said potential new Sea Cadets can join the program anytime between the ages of 11 and their high school graduation. The program is divided into age-specific groups.
"As the Cadets move through the program, we just watch them mature and grow," she said. "We really see the progress that the kids make and then watch them take that with them after they graduate."
For information on the Sea Cadets program, visit www.seacadets.org
. The Sea Cadets program is sponsored by the U.S. Navy League and supported by the U.S. Navy.
The A-4 was an attack aircraft operated by the Navy Reserve at Selfridge, 1969-1973.
For more information on the Selfridge Military Air Museum, visit www.selfridgeairmuseum.org
About Selfridge Air National Guard Base
One of the oldest military air fields in continuous service, the military first took possession of Selfridge Air National Guard Base on July 1, 1917. The first military flight at the base took place on July 8 and formal flight operations began on July 16, 1917. Today the 127th Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard is the host unit at the base, which also houses units of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection.