Dan Venable is a captain in the United States Air Force, having attended the United States Air Force Academy after graduating from Franklin High in 2007. While serving as an airfield operations manager, Venable managed personnel, logistics and aircraft in Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas and Kuwait. He will soon be deployed to Baghdad for service in the United States Embassy.
What led you to want to serve in the military?
It became my dream to be an Air Force Officer during my freshman year of Franklin High. I felt a desire to serve others and to be a part of something much bigger than myself. I discovered that the best avenue to my dream was to become a cadet at the Air Force Academy, so I set my sights on attending the Academy and worked the next three years to get there.
What does your job as an airfield operations officer entail and what do you enjoy most about it?
As an airfield operations officer, I am in charge of air traffic control, airfield management and the navigation systems for aircraft at my base. I am a certified air traffic controller as well as a certified airfield manager. I supervise anywhere from 60 to 160 troops working to provide a safe environment for air operations. My favorite part of the job is the dynamic nature of what I do. One day I can be dealing with an issue with air traffic control procedures, and the next, working to plan or execute a multi-million dollar construction project to replace failing portions of my ramp or runways.
What will you be doing once you are deployed to Baghdad?
The official title is foreign military sales officer, and I am a representative of the US government responsible for facilitating the sale of US industry-made equipment in the field of air traffic control and airfield management to the Iraqi Ministry of Defense or Interior. The US goal of this is to help the country gain capabilities rather than just another piece of equipment. Once a sale is confirmed through the US State Department, we then provide the equipment, spare parts and training for the use and maintenance of the items as well.
What did you enjoy most about your high school experience?
I really enjoyed the extra-curricular activities. I was involved with the marching band as a percussionist, JROTC as Second in Command (my senior year), Model United Nations/Youth Legislature, Student Council, swim team, as well as a few other clubs.
What WCS teacher made a difference in your life and how?
There are two that really jump out in my mind, Mrs. Mace and Mr. Leachman. Mace had a very difficult honors chemistry class. I needed to take it as part of my dream to go to the Air Force Academy, but it was consistently one of my worst grades that year. She was fair and extended grace to students when it was warranted and was tough when it wasn’t. She helped me find motivation in my mind beyond just grade point averages. At the end of the year, I knew I had more to learn from her, so I asked to be her student aid the next year. Not only did I brush up on my chemistry over the next two years, but I also learned from her about how to be a better person. Her passion for science and for her students is quite special.
Mr. Leachman had a way of teaching that went beyond just trying to impart information, he gave students a desire to learn and to read on their own. He fostered conversation in his classroom that grew minds. He wasn’t afraid of altering his lesson plan if there was a subject or debate that he felt would build our minds. He taught us the importance of having a position and knowing the foundation of that position, the need for a passion in our lives to drive us onward. He taught us the value of looking for other perspectives on issues, and the need to listen first to others. He taught the power of language and the beauty of the written word.
Do you have any advice for current WCS students?
Have a dream; find out what it takes to make that dream a reality; and work hard to get there. It may seem difficult in the moment, and you may miss out on a few things; but when you get there and are living that dream, you will see that it was worth all that you put in and much more.