PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, NH — A security forces Airman with the 157th Air Refueling Wing demonstrated his mental and physical prowess by going head-to-toe on an Army exam aimed at qualifying candidates for one of their toughest schools from 17th to 19th Find September 18th.
After successfully completing a grueling two-day exam in Concord, New Hampshire and Ft. Devens, Mass., Staff Sgt. Jacob Kelly of Berwick, Maine, was selected as one of three local candidates to have a chance at US Army Ranger School.
“I found out about the opportunity a few months before the assessment when my leadership was looking for volunteers,” Kelly said. “It sounded like a good challenge.”
According to Senior Master Sgt. Paul Lawrence, superintendent of the 157th Security Forces Squadron, Kelly is a top performer and was a natural choice for the nomination.
A longtime fitness fan, Kelly said he felt he was in a pretty good position going into the rating. He knew he would take on multiple physical, mental, and knowledge-based challenges, including fitness, land navigation, and aquatic survival. His mix of long-distance ultra running and strength training gave him the physical prowess he needed to prove he had what it took to earn one of three promotion spots.
The first day of evaluation consisted of a combat water survival test at Concord Health Club and the Ranger Physical Fitness Test at Edward Cross Training Center, Pembroke, New Hampshire. The second day took place in Ft. Devens and had contestants completing a land navigation challenge and jerk.
Kelly said he was good at land navigation thanks to years spent outdoors and a personal interest in the subject.
“I’ve always hunted and spent a lot of time in the forest,” he said. “I also practiced alone with a map and compass before the opportunity to take the ranger exam came up.”
The hardest part of the judging, Kelly said, was the final timed 12-mile ruck, which competitors had to complete over a hilly course at the army post.
“I didn’t do anything specific [ruck] training and I felt it,” Kelly said.
U.S. Army Capt. William Scull, New Hampshire’s training officer, said that while the course is physically demanding and fitness is key, the squad is also looking at other qualities such as attitude, drive and determination.
“The best candidate is one who is physically fit, but also one who is mentally sharp and won’t give up no matter how tough it gets,” Scull said.
With the stats in his rearview mirror, Kelly is looking forward to the opportunity to move on to the next phase of training in the summer of 2023 and is working to be ready by then.
The Ranger Training Evaluation Course is a 14-day training course that serves as the final gateway to full Ranger school. As one of three New Hampshire nominees, Kelly earned the privilege of spending the 30 days prior to RTAC training alongside the US Army, learning patrol techniques and additional land navigation and physical fitness. If successful at RTAC, Kelly will advance directly to Ranger School.
“My focus is on getting the gear and the knowledge to stay fit and do more,” Kelly said.