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Langley Airman graduates Army ranger course

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Maxwell Martin, reaction force leader assigned to the 633rd Security Forces Squadron, was the only Airman to graduate Ranger School at Fort Benning, Ga., March 4, 2016. Ranger School is the U.S. Army’s most prestigious and challenging leadership course available. (Courtesy Photo)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Maxwell Martin, reaction force leader assigned to the 633rd Security Forces Squadron, was the only Airman to graduate Ranger School at Fort Benning, Ga., March 4, 2016. Ranger School is the U.S. Army’s most prestigious and challenging leadership course available. (Courtesy Photo)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Maxwell Martin, reaction force leader assigned to the 633rd Security Forces Squadron, embraces his parents after graduating Ranger School at Fort Benning, Ga., March 4, 2016. Martin was the only Airman to graduate in his class. (Courtesy Photo)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Maxwell Martin, reaction force leader assigned to the 633rd Security Forces Squadron, embraces his parents after graduating Ranger School at Fort Benning, Ga., March 4, 2016. Martin was the only Airman to graduate in his class. (Courtesy Photo)

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. -- Ensuring Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, remains safe is the main responsibility of the 633rd Security Forces Squadron. To accomplish their mission, SFS personnel patrol the installation every day of the year at all hours.

For U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Maxwell Martin, reaction force leader assigned to the 633rd SFS, training ensures he and his team are prepared to handle any situation that comes their way.

In November, Martin attended the Army's most prestigious and challenging leadership course, Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia, to further his knowledge and become a more effective member of his team.

"The whole goal [of attending Ranger School] was to get the tab, but that's everyone's goal," said Martin. "However, I learned a lot about myself, leadership and that I can deal with the terrible situations and do just fine."

Ranger School consists of three phases that are designed to test each individual in all leadership positions, as well as mentally and physically challenge them.

Phase 1 is referred to as the Crawl (Darby) Phase and lasts for 20 days. During this period, candidates develop the physical and mental skills necessary to complete combat missions and the remainder of Ranger School. 

At the beginning of Crawl Phase, Martin was one of a small group of personnel from other services. In addition to Martin, there was a Naval Officer and a few Tactical Air Control Party Airmen, he said.

Phase 2, or the Walk (Mountain) Phase, goes on for 21 days where potential Ranger School graduates will receive instruction on military mountaineering as well as the necessary techniques for employing squads and platoons for continuous combat patrol operations. Each member will also have the opportunity to command and control a platoon-sized patrol through planning, preparing and executing a variety of missions.

"The course piled on the stress and the wear and tear on the body," explained Martin. "The field training exercises allotted maybe an hour or two of sleep with only one or two meals ready-to-eat a day. After a while it builds up."

Phase 3, or the Run (Swamp) Phase, spans the last 18 days. In this portion of the training, candidates exhibit the ability to operate effectively under extreme mental and physical stress. Run Phase develops the future Ranger graduates in leading small units on airborne, air assault, small boat, ship-to-shore and dismounted combat patrol operations in a swamp environment.

"Ranger School is a bittersweet thing," said Martin. "It's bitter while you're there doing it because [it's difficult] but it's sweet because it's one of the most humbling experiences I've ever gone through."

Attending tough courses like Ranger School brings its candidates closer together and they form a strong bond, he said.

"It helps build a relationship with the other branches and we will better understand how they operate," said Martin. "It builds wisdom and helps them learn about the Air Force while we learn about the Army. The Army provides a lot of great schools that the other branches don't."

After graduating Ranger School in March, Martin returned to Langley where he rejoined the ranks of Security Forces personnel and applies his newly acquired skills and knowledge to impact the mission.