Airman Ranger Made The Cut, Now Leads The Way
(May 12, 2011)
Airman 1st Class Matthew
Garner has his Ranger tab pinned on by his
father, Don Garner, and mentor, Staff Sgt. Seth
Hunter, April 29, 2011. after completing the
intense 61-day U.S. Army Ranger School at Ft.
Benning, Ga. Airman Garner was the only Airman
to make it through the course for this class and
is one of fewer than 300 to make it since the
school opened in the 1950s. Airman Garner is
assigned to the 823rd Base Defense Squadron.
FORT BENNING, Ga. (AFNS - 5/9/2011) -- The
course began with 404 people. After 61 days of
fast-paced stressful situations that pushed them
past their physical and mental limits, only 191
remained, and only one was an Airman.
Airman 1st Class Matthew Garner, an 823rd Base
Defense Squadron member, is one of fewer than
300 Airmen to make it through Army Ranger School
and earn the Ranger tab since the school opened
in the 1950s.
"I wanted to become a
Ranger to find out what my limits were," said
Airman Garner, who graduated April 29.
"Completing the course helped me realize there
were no limits. The course is designed to help
you find out who you really are. You're tired
and hungry, and surrounded by chaos and
confusion in the worst of conditions, but you
still have to overcome adversity and get the job
Airman Garner was chosen to fill
one of only six slots the Air Force gets each
year for the course.
During the nine
weeks of the combat leadership course held at
Fort Benning, Ga., the aspiring Rangers were
isolated as they learned the skills that will
lead them to gaining the coveted qualification.
"We were allowed (to receive) mail during
most parts of the course, and that was
definitely a morale booster," Airman Garner
said. "What really helped each person get
through the training was their team. It takes a
lot of individual effort, but nobody earns the
Ranger tab on
their own. If someone was having a particularly
rough day, the teammates would help support
To help aid with the team concept, none of the students wore
The three phases hone their combat skills
including demolitions, mountaineering, ability to lead a
platoon-sized patrol, combat arms proficiency, land
navigation, and combat water survival.
were held in different environments, including mountains and
a coastal swamp, but each phase tested the students'
commitment and stamina while facing severe weather, hunger
and mental, physical and emotional stress.
went through the Air Force pre-Ranger course, I felt like I
had really been set up for success," Airman Garner said.
"Overall, I put about 10 months of intense training into
earning my Ranger tab."
Airman Garner said he credits
two people with helping him the most during the preparation
process: his father, Don Garner, and Staff Sgt. Seth Hunter,
from the 820th Combat Operations Squadron.
very proud of him for serving his country and accomplishing
something like this," said Mr. Garner. "Even as a young man,
he was always into exercising and doing things that weren't
expected of him. Before joining the Air Force, he went to
college for a year on a bull-riding scholarship. Bull-riding
isn't something Indiana is known for."
started riding bulls when he was 14 years old and has spent
two years since then as an amateur and three years as a
professional. His father acted as a coach then, but still
has an effect on his son now.
"My father helped me
develop the mental fortitude to drive forward and never
quit," Airman Garner said. "He was like a personal coach and
gave me some memorable 'don't quit' talking sessions. During
the Ranger course, the temptation to quit is always there,
so that really helped."
Airman Garner also credits
Sergeant Hunter with some of his success. It began when
Sergeant Hunter graduated Ranger school.
from Ranger school in October 2010 and then helped assess
Airman Garner during his pre-Ranger course late last year,"
said Sergeant Hunter, the 820th COS manager for tactical
training, and sharpshooter and sniper skills. "We spent a
lot of time training and preparing for this, and I'm super
proud of him.
"Only 30 percent of Rangers make it
through the entire course without being recycled, and he was
one of them," he said. "His graduation is an outstanding
accomplishment, especially for someone his age. The
leadership and combat skills he's gained during Ranger
school will be very beneficial to his unit."
graduation included a Rangers in Action Demonstration, which
showcased rappelling, demolitions, extraction by helicopter
and hand-to-hand combat abilities.
Airman Garner is
scheduled to attend the U.S. Army Airborne School in May to
earn the title of Airborne Ranger.
Article and photo by Airman 1st Class Brigitte N. Brantley-Sisk|
23rd Wing Public Affairs
Air Force News
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