SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. --
It has been said that approximately 70 percent of individuals from ages 17 to 24 are ineligible to join the U.S. military due to failure to meet standards. Statistics such as this make those who have the physical and mental prowess to apply, qualify and ultimately join a special warfare career field all the more impressive.
To join a special warfare career field and become what is called a battlefield Airman begins before Basic Military Training and continues all the way until they complete their technical training school and are assigned to a military installation.
To begin this arduous road, candidates must complete and defeat the Physical Ability and Stamina Test, or PAST. Most recently, these potential Airmen put their minds and bodies through the ringer at the 330th Special Warfare Recruiting Squadron’s office in Fairview Heights, Illinois, Nov. 24, 2020.
“The people and candidates that we're looking for is kind of like a needle in the haystack.” said Tech. Sgt. Dalontie Joppy, 330th Special Warfare Recruiting Squadron special warfare assessing recruiter. “So to get the most bang for our buck we try to do the larger events to see and target the people who we’re specifically looking for.”
“Typically we are looking for athletic people who are looking to maximize their potential and serve a nation in ways that many people don't,” he continued.
The minimum physical fitness scores that candidates must complete are more strenuous than that of an ‘everyday’ Airman with 15:00 or faster 500 meter swim, 1.5 mile run in 10:20 or faster, 8 pull-ups, 50 sit-ups, and 40 pushups. This standard is something they must maintain up until their ship date.
“So far, it's just been a lot of training and getting myself ready mentally and physically for what's about to come,” said William Lefever, special warfighter candidate. “The steps that I need to take now [are to] continue training and then make myself the best candidate that that I can be.
To ensure the safety and accuracy of the candidates’ evaluation, recruiters like Joppy oversee and record the scores. With being in such a select recruiting arena, his area of responsibility is larger than other recruiters.
“My zone consists of pretty much, the entire state of Illinois,” Joppy explained. “I share it with the one other recruiter who has Chicago, but finding these people is a little bit more difficult.
Joppy went on to say that his recruiting locations tend to be a bit different from other recruiters due to the physical demand of the jobs he has to offer. Where recruiters for non-battlefield Airmen may visit schools, he sets up shop at ultimate races, gyms or other places where those in the desired age range are already participating in not your everyday activities.
“I been pretty active all my life with sports and stuff like that,” Lefever explained.
He went on to elaborate his reasoning for wanting to join a special warfare career field. He said that he “didn’t want to be tied to a desk all day” and “didn’t want every day to be the same” as the one before.
From that day where Lefever showed interest, he has been dedicated to making the cut and one day getting to a ship out date – soon. With the completion of this test, candidate Lefever can look PAST this day and look forward to becoming a trainee, and shortly thereafter, an Airman.