SELFRIDGE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mich. –
A 127th Wing Defender completed the “10 toughest days in the Army” in March, becoming among the relatively few Air National Guard Airmen authorized to wear the Air Assault Badge on his uniform.
“The amount of information they packed into those two weeks – it was definitely a lot to take in, but I learned things I can bring back to the unit and share,” said Senior Airman Joe Fitzgerald, a member of the 127th Security Forces Squadron at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. Fitzgerald is the only member of the 127th Wing to earn the Army’s Air Assault Badge in recent memory.
During the two-week training at the Army Warrior Training Center at Fort Benning, Georgia, students were given instruction in how to transport supplies via helicopters in a contested environment, how to create and secure landing zones and how to conduct offensive and defensive operations. The course begins with an extensive physical fitness screening and obstacle course competition. According to an Army publication, typically only about two thirds of those who attend the course ultimately pass and earn the badge. The publication also called the school the hardest ten days in the Army.
Fitzgerald said with the relatively new Air Force Agile Combat Employment concept, Security Forces personnel may be called upon to operate in different environments for extended periods of time, meaning that the ability to re-supply and sustain operations becomes even more important.
"Senior Airman Fitzgerald brings a positive attitude with him to work every single day. Earning the Air Assault Badge is a rarity in the Air National Guard and this accomplishment speaks to Fitzgerald's enthusiasm and professionalism,” said Col. Samuel Trapasso, 127th Mission Support Group commander. “He sought out this additional training and now brings back this knowledge that he can share with our Defender team here at Selfridge."
Fitzgerald said his new Air Assault skills will first be put to use helping other Airmen in his squadron request a seat in a future course and to be physically ready for the course’s demands.
“This is training that definitely benefits me as an individual and keeps me motivated, but benefits the squadron as a whole,” he said.
Fitzgerald has been a member of the 127th Security Forces Squadron for about 3 and a half years. A traditional member of the Michigan Air National Guard, he serves as a math teach at Father Gabriel Richard High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in his civilian career.
The 127th SFS is responsible for base security and law enforcement functions at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.