WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
The digital time clock on the wall chirps out, signaling the end of the round. Citizen Airmen of the 445th Security Forces Squadron exchange high-fives and accomplished grins, sweat dripping from their temples, as they rotate to the next station.
Senior Airman Andrew Brooks walks to a large, unserviceable tire near the bay’s open garage door. He raises a sledgehammer behind his head and swiftly swings it over his body until the metal head of the hammer forcefully collides against the rubber tire with a loud thud. Brooks and two other security forces Airmen repeat this motion, alternating arms, for a full 60 seconds before the clock chirps again, ushering them to the shoulder press station.
Brooks, who spent four years as a physical training leader in the active duty Air Force before joining the 445th two years ago, helped develop this improved remedial PT program with Staff Sgt. Shayne Denihan, a certified personal trainer.
“So far, everyone has embraced it in a really positive way,” Brooks says, noting that the program promotes teamwork and builds morale.
They, along with other Airmen in the squadron, worked this summer to clean and reorganize the bay area next to their office, which was used primarily for storage.
“We cleared out 24 truckloads of scrap metal, trash, and other equipment that didn’t need to be stored in here,” he said.
Open to anyone, the Sunday morning workouts began during the August unit training assembly and are mandatory for members who score lower than 80 percent on their fitness test. Each UTA, Denihan designs a tailored workout intended to help fellow Airmen with not only their test scores, but job performance, too.
“The workouts consist of functional fitness movements, meant to help us out in combat situations,” says Denihan, a graduate student in Ohio State University’s sport management department. “It gives people who don’t know how to workout meaningful fitness movements they can reflect on and use throughout the month in their own fitness journey.”
For Major Charles Trovarello, 445th Security Forces Squadron Commander, physical fitness is a critical aspect of the career.
“I need to know that they are going to be able to physically withstand the realities of our carrier field,” Trovarello says. “One minute they could be walking around in 45 pounds of gear downrange, and the next, running to pull their buddy out of a vehicle. The last thing I want is for them to collapse because they weren't physically and mentally ready for the stress.”
The space, which squadron members are also encouraged to use for their own individual workouts, includes both freestanding and suspended punching bags, old tires from the 88th Logistics Readiness Squadron, padded mats, and combative gear, much of which was newly replaced.
“The equipment was purchased utilizing funds obligated for our Raven program and use of force/combatives training,” Trovarello explains.
Although security forces personnel are required to complete standard annual tour training, Trovarello says he believes it is important to incorporate combative scenarios and conditioning into their regular training schedule throughout the year, so updated sparring equipment is a necessity.
“We’ve seen enhanced overall unit productivity in combatives,” says Staff Sgt. Jake McCorkle, one of only six Ravens in the 445th Security Forces Squadron.
The Phoenix Raven Qualification Course is an Air Force program for elite security forces personnel, along with Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Federal Air Marshal Service members, according to the program website. The students receive hands-on training in areas such as embassy operations, aircraft searches, unarmed self-defense, and advanced firearms proficiency. Once graduated, Ravens accompany air crews to locations identified as having insufficient security. Ravens’ duties are to protect aircraft, crews and cargo from terrorist threats.
“These guys go out and provide security for bases and airfields that don’t have that,” says Chief Master Sgt. Bryan Cepluch, 445th security forces manager. “They are responsible for the plane in those situations.”
Ravens from this squadron have participated in missions across the globe, including Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and South and Central America, according to Senior Master Sgt. Frankie Lowder, who became a Raven in 2000.
“We’ve flown missions into Iraq in support of any and all missions over there,” adds Master Sgt. James Kirklin, a 2002 graduate of the Phoenix-Raven course. “Part of being a Raven is fulfilling, ongoing monthly training requirements.”
In the 445th, all security forces personnel have the chance to learn and refine these skills using specialized equipment in the bay area. McCorkle and Tech. Sgt. Chris Booth create law enforcement training scenarios and host martial arts workouts in the squadron on Friday evenings before the UTA.
“Now more Airmen have the opportunity to take advantage of the equipment and diversify their fitness routines,” McCorkle says.
Through the multiple workout opportunities offered throughout the week, Trovarello says he hopes to continue seeing positive responses and results in the physical fitness arena.
“Our PT program, in general, aims to assess our people, build camaraderie, and hopefully impart knowledge on them that will help them tailor their monthly workouts,” Trovarello says. “Our goal is to produce combat-ready Airmen, and physical fitness is directly related to that.”