New Hampshire Airman Earns a Shot at Ranger School

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Timm Huffman
  • 157th Air Refueling Wing

A 157th Air Refueling Wing Security Forces Airman demonstrated his mental and physical prowess, going toe-to-toe with an Army assessment designed to find candidates for one of its toughest schools, September 17-18.

Following the successful completion of a grueling, two-day assessment held in Concord, New Hampshire, and Ft. Devens, Massachusetts, Staff Sgt. Jacob Kelly of Berwick, Maine, was selected as one of three local candidates to have a shot at the U.S. Army's Ranger school.

"I found out about the opportunity a couple months prior to the assessment when my leadership was looking for volunteers," said Kelly. "It sounded like a good challenge."

According to Senior Master Sgt. Paul Lawrence, the 157th Security Forces Squadron superintendent, Kelly is a high performer and was a natural choice for the nomination.

A long-time fitness buff, Kelly said he felt like he was in a pretty good place going into the assessment. He knew he would face multiple physical, mental, and knowledge-based tasks, that include fitness, land navigation, and water survival. His training mix of long-distance ultrarunning and strength training, gave him the physical capacity he would need to demonstrate he had what it would take to earn one of three advancement spots.

Day one of the assessment consisted of a combat water survival test at the Concord Health Club and the Ranger Physical Fitness Test at the Edward Cross Training Center, Pembroke, New Hampshire. Day two took place at Ft. Devens and had participants completing a land navigation challenge and ruck.

Kelly said he did well at the land navigation, thanks to years spent in the outdoors and a personal interest in the topic.

"I've always hunted and spent time in the woods,” he said. “I also practiced the map and compass on my own even before the opportunity to complete the Ranger assessment presented itself.”

The most challenging portion of the assessment, said Kelly, was the final 12-mile, timed ruck that participants were required to complete over a hilly course at the Army post.

"I didn't do any specific [ruck] training before and I felt that one," said Kelly.

U.S. Army Capt. William Scull, the New Hampshire training officer, said that while the course is physically demanding and fitness is key, the cadre also keeps an eye on other characteristics, such as attitude, drive, and determination.

"The best candidate is one who is physically fit but also the one who is mentally sharp and will not quit, no matter how hard things get," said Scull.

With the assessment in the rear-view mirror, Kelly is looking forward to the opportunity to tackle the next phase of training during the summer of 2023 and is putting in the work to ensure he is ready when the time comes.

The Ranger Training Assessment Course is a 14-day training that serves as a final gate to the full Ranger School. As one of three nominees from New Hampshire, Kelly earned the privilege of spending the 30 days prior to RTAC training alongside the U.S. Army, learning patrolling techniques and additional land navigation and physical fitness. If he succeeds at RTAC, Kelly will advance directly onto Ranger school.

"I'm focused on getting the gear, the knowledge, staying fit, and doing more rucking," said Kelly.