KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Local JROTC students from El Dorado High School recently got a personal tour of the Nuclear Weapons Instructional Museum, a part of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and had a chance to chat one-on-one with the instructors in a question and answer session, in the auditorium of the Defense Nuclear Weapons School at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, Nov. 13, 2019.
The DNWS manages and operates the only classified NWIM in the Department of Defense. The museum traces the history and development of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile from its inception to the present.
DTRA is a combat support agency and a defense agency whose mission enables the Department of Defense, the U.S. government and international partners to counter and deter weapons of mass destruction and improvised threat networks.
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Barham M. Bratton, DNWS Instructor, came up with the idea when thinking about his own contributions to the school and how that could benefit students in the ROTC program. He put a plan into action during this inaugural visit.
The students got a chance to see firsthand the military opportunities available to them at Kirtland and learn about those available to them all over the world.
Each service member in the Q&A session shared their own personal reasons for joining the military and some of the experiences they had, which were as vast as the joint services staff. The group of seven staff members talked about their job experience which included everything from explosive ordnance, to working on submarines with no communications capabilities for months.
“If your over 5[foot] 8[inches] don’t go submarines,” joked U.S. Marine Cpt. Clayton J. Rue.
Every student had a chance to ask at least one question with most asking why did you join or what did you get out of it? The joint service cadre responses included joining for college money to wanting to be an astronaut.
U.S. Navy Lt. Juanzen Kanada Deloney Jr., DNWS instructor, emphasized the need for a plan whether doing it for college money or other reasons.
“Begin with the end in mind,” he said. “Have a plan A, B, and C….then sit back and buckle your seatbelt because it’s going to be a ride.”
Touring the NWIM displays afforded the students a rare opportunity to view exhibits and discuss stockpile issues with the experienced instructors of all military branches.
“This is something we want to try and do again,” said Bratton. “It’s a good opportunity for these students to see real active-duty working in a joint environment.”
During the museum tour, DNWS staff walked with the students through the unclassified section answering questions in addition to passing on their knowledge about the different displays including nuclear history use, buildup and drawdowns, and accidents and test theories from the past. The students asked questions and even got opportunities to hold some of the heavier display material.
“It’s important to see these things first hand,” said U.S. Marine Chief Warrant Officer 3 Aaron J. Rager.
U.S. Marine Master Sgt. Donald Johnson, El Dorado Marine Corps ROTC Instructor who accompanied the students said, “This is something we will continue to do so long as it benefits both sides. Hopefully it sparks [the students’,] interest.”
For more information on DTRA and the Nuclear Weapons School check out https://www.dtra.mil/DTRA-Mission/Reference-Documents/Defense-Nuclear-Weapons-School/