Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A-10C pilot, family headed to Argentina through Olmsted Scholar program

by Capt. Stacie N. Shafran
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

6/21/2010 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Maj. Sean "Olé" Baerman, an A-10C pilot assigned to the 358th Fighter Squadron here, his wife Mandy and their 3-year-old-son, Teague, will soon call Buenos Aires, Argentina home.

In March, the major was one of 17 military officers selected by the George and Carol Olmsted Foundation to be student in Olmsted Scholar Class of 2011.

The Olmsted Scholar Program provides an opportunity for officers to study in a foreign language at an international university abroad. This program provides officers with an in-depth understanding of foreign languages and cultures so they will be knowledgeable and sensitive to the viewpoints and concerns of people around the world as they progress with their Air Force careers. The program involves cultural immersion, as well as studying at the university in the native language.

The family will move to Buenos Aires later this month, create their home in an apartment on the economy and will spend the next eight months learning Spanish and immersing themselves in the culture and customs of Argentina and its neighbors.

Next April, after gaining fluency in the language, the major will begin his two-year academic endeavor to earn a Masters of International Relations at the University of Belgrano. During time off from school, the family will travel around South America, further immersing itself in the culture.

After graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1999, Major Baerman went on to become an A-10 pilot. Following his various pilot training courses, his operational assignments brought him and his family to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. He's been stationed at Davis-Monthan for three years as an A-10C instructor and flight examiner.

"I've been flying A-10s my entire career--it will be interesting to see what it's like to not fly for almost three years," he said. "The Olmsted program provides one of the best opportunities for career broadening and every aspect of the program is appealing to me and my family."

The major said he's most looking forward to the challenge of learning a new language, the opportunity to live and travel in South America, and the chance to do something vastly different than what his peers normally do.

"The day I found out I had been chosen to be part of the program, and that we were going to Buenos Aires, I bought several books and started studying Spanish with the Rosetta Stone language software," said Major Baerman. "I've been studying for about an hour and a half each day. I also listen to a podcast called 'Coffee Break Español' to and from work."

In addition, he's been juggling a few books at once, to include travel guides, history books and novels about the region.

As part of his application process, Major Baerman took the Defense Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB) exam. Although no actual fluency of a specific language is required, the major studied French in high school and in college. He also did some self-study last year in order to get a Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT) score on file to have a stronger application package. Applicants must also submit their undergraduate transcripts, GRE scores, officer performance reports, obtain letters of recommendation and write an essay to the foundation explaining their interest in the program. Of the 137 AF applicants this year, the AF board forwarded 12 officers, and seven were ultimately selected by the Olmsted Foundation.

Major Baerman is also following in his father's, footsteps. Col. (Ret.) Paul Baerman was an Army Olmsted Scholar in Geneva, Switzerland before the major was born. With this, they are making history. This is the first time since the program was created in 1957 that a parent and then a child have participated.

"In addition to my father serving as a role model, General Olmsted himself was an amazing individual, both in the military and as a civilian," explained the major. "The principles he and his foundation espouse are extremely admirable. It is an honor to be part of this program."

More information about the program is available at the George and Carol Olmsted Foundation website at

Maj. Sean Baerman holds his three-year-old son Teague, as he shows him the cockpit of an A-10 Thunderbolt II on the flight line here June 8, 2010. The major was one of 17 military officers selected by the George and Carol Olmsted Foundation to be a student in Olmsted Scholar Class of 2011. Major Baerman and his family will spend the next few years living in Buenos Aires as he completes a Masters of International Relations at the University of Belgrano. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jerilyn Quintanilla) Hi-res


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