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The Light at the end of the Tunnel

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Todd Wivell
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Editor's note: Some combat control instructors and all students are identified by their rank and first name only. This is part nine of a 13-part series. 

With nine of 13 weeks of training completed, the trainees of Class 09-003 attending the combat controller course at Pope can see the light at the end of the tunnel. With only a few weeks left, they are within reach of the end goal of wearing the red beret. 

It has been a grueling nine weeks to date. The class started out with 21 trainees and due to medical releases or inabilities to complete the course, the class body is now at 16. They came from all walks of life; some had past military experiences and some were brand new to the Air Force. All of them had completed at least nine months of air traffic control school, survival school and U.S. Army Airborne training before starting this next course of their two years of training. 

From day one when the trainees were put through a very demanding physical training evaluation, to week nine when the trainees were learning landing and drop zone techniques out at the ranges of Fort Bragg, it has been an intense instruction. 

Instruction in land navigation, tactics, rappelling, demolition, weapons firing, live grenade throwing, mission planning, reconnaissance, protective mask training, water training, intense PT sessions, landing/drop zone training, communication instructions and hours of classroom training all played a part in this field training. 

The trainees have learned that in order to survive as a Combat Controller, they must use teamwork to succeed. Whether working together in PT sessions to ensure everyone makes it through or when navigating at night through the woods of Fort Bragg, success and teamwork are at the forefront of their missions. 

"This is the most critical time of their training," said Senior Master Sgt. Sean Gleffe, CCS Commandant. "There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but now is not the time to let down their guard. Some high risk training is ahead as well as the culmination event, The Field Training Exercise. Now is not the time to let down their guard. We want each of these young men to graduate; it's ultimately on them." 

With only a few weeks left, these men may soon have earned the honor of wearing the coveted red beret.