Commander, Professor of Aerospace Studies
Lt Col Benson
Lieutenant Colonel Andrew J. Benson is the Commander, Air Force ROTC Detachment 850. He serves as Professor and Department Chair of Aerospace Studies at the University of Utah. He is responsible for recruiting, training and commissioning cadets at The University of Utah and from six “cross-town” colleges.
Lieutenant Colonel Benson entered active duty and was commissioned through AFROTC in 1997. Prior to his current command, he was assigned to the 919th Special Operations Wing, 2d Special Operations Squadron. He has served as an Air Battle Manager, Electronic Combat Officer, Group Executive Officer, Intelligence Officer, Flight Commander, and Senior Intelligence Officer.
Lieutenant Colonel Benson has deployed to support combat operations in Operations SOUTHERN WATCH, NORTHERN WATCH, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM. He supported in-garrison combat operations in Operations ENDURING FREEDOM, IRAQI FREEDOM, NEW DAWN, COPPER DUNE, JUPITER GARRETT, FREEDOM’S SENTINEL, and JUKEBOX LOTUS.
He is a rated officer with over 1,000 flight hours on the E-3 and over 6,000 combat support hours to the MQ-1 and MQ-9 aircraft.
Operations Flight Commander
Maj Lotz is the Operations Flight Commander and Associate Professor of Aerospace Studies at the University of Utah, Air Force ROTC Detachment 850. He is responsible for recruiting, training and commissioning cadets on the University of Utah campus as well as cadets from six other “cross-town” colleges in the Salt Lake area.
Major Lotz commissioned through ROTC at Brigham Young University in 2006. He started his military service as a Space and Missile Ops Officer becoming an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Combat Crew Commander and assistant flight commander in Montana. He transitioned to a dedicated Space Operations officer in North Dakota and became a Missile Warning and Space Surveillance Crew Commander and trainer. He was a formal instructor at the Advanced Space Operations School at Peterson AFB, CO, where he was flight commander and course director for the Space Situational Awareness Advanced Course, as well as the Space Operations Course for Acquirers and Engineers, and the Missile Warning & Defense Advanced Course. Prior to his current assignment, Maj Lotz served in various Combatant Command and customer outreach positions in the Mission Integration Directorate of the National Reconnaissance Office which culminated in serving as the Chief of Staff for his office.
Colonel (ret) Leftwich
Colonel (ret) Leftwich is the Associate Professor of Aerospace Studies at the University of Utah, Air Force ROTC Detachment 850. He is responsible for recruiting, training, and commissioning cadets on the University of Utah campus as well as cadets from six other “cross-town” colleges in the Salt Lake Area.
Col (ret) Leftwich graduated from Brigham Young University in April 1988. He earned his commission in December 1989 from Air Force Officer Training School. Col (ret) Leftwich is a Master Navigator with over 3,200 flying hours in the T-37, T-43, KC-135A, and KC-135R aircraft.
Colonel (ret) Leftwich earned his navigator wings at Mather AFB, CA and was assigned to fly the KC-135s at Grissom AFB, IN. While there, he deployed several times in support of Operation Desert Storm and the European Tanker Task Force. Next, he was assigned to Mountain Home AFB, ID where he was a contingency mission planner and the primary training flight instructor navigator. In his following assignments at Kadena AB, Japan and Altus AFB, OK he worked as an Instructor Navigator, Training Flight Commander, Wing Tactics Officer, School House Evaluator Navigator, and Squadron and Operations Group Executive Officer. As a staff officer at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, Col (ret) Leftwich worked as the Air Desk Officer for the Balkans, Senior Executive Officer for NATO’s Director of Operations, Combined Joint Planning Staff Officer, and as an Air Logistics Officer. Later at the Air Force Academy, he became an Assistant Professor, and the Deputy Department Head of Management. While still at the Academy, he also served one-year as the Division Chief, Capstone Events in the Center for Character and Leadership Development. Col (ret) Leftwich then moved Joint Base Andrews, MD were he became the Deputy Inspector General, Air Force District of Washington. While there he prepared the command for its first ever Unit Effectiveness Inspection and stood up its internal inspection program. Finally, he retired after being assigned as an Investigating Officer at the Pentagon.
Technical Sergeant Welcome is the NCOIC of Personnel at AFROTC, Detachment 850, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah. He is responsible for creating and maintaining records for the University of Utah Cadets as well as cadets from six other “cross-town” colleges in the Salt Lake area.
NCOIC Administrative Management
Technical Sergeant Watkins is the NCOIC of Administrative Management at AFROTC, Detachment 850, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah. He is responsible for creating and maintaining records for the University of Utah Cadets as well as cadets from six other “cross-town” colleges in the Salt Lake area.
TSgt Watkins enlisted the Air Force in August 2012 as a Knowledge Operations Manager. His assignments include New Mexico and Utah. TSgt Watkins has also spent 180 days deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
Northwest Region Gold Bar Recruiter
2d Lieutenant Rabayda
2d Lieutenant Rabayda is a Northwest Region Gold Bar Recruiter at the University of Utah, Air Force ROTC Detachment 850. He is responsible for recruiting highly diverse and qualified potential officer candidates at high schools in Utah, Idaho, and Montana.
Lt Rabayda was commissioned through ROTC at Cornell University in 2019 after graduating Magna Cum Laude with his Bachelors of Science in Physics. Upon completion of his Gold Bar assignment, he will begin Undergraduate Flight Training at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas.
Ms. Lauren Peterson