Security forces lieutenant finishes Ranger School

  • Published
  • By Sheila Rupp
  • Nucleus journalist
It's not everyday that an Airmen decides to take on the challenge of Army Ranger School, but 1st Lt. James Hewett was up to the task - and successfully graduated the course Jan. 26.

Lieutenant Hewett said that his interest in attending Ranger School first emerged while he was attending the University of Alabama and took part in the Ranger Challenge as an Air Force ROTC cadet. The Ranger Challenge is a two-day event where cadets participate and compete in events such as a rucksack march, the Army physical fitness test, a written exam, assembling and disassembling an M-16 rifle and navigating a hand grenade assault course. Lieutenant Hewett received his bachelor's degree in history from the University of Alabama and earned his Air Force commission Dec. 18, 2004.

U.S. Army Ranger School is a leadership school designed to help train platoon and squad leaders, which are equivalent to flight commanders in the Air Force. Ranger training began in 1950 at Fort Benning, Ga. The course is 61 days long and entails three phrases of training at three different installations. In fiscal year 2006, 1,841 students graduated the course, which was 54 percent of the enrolled class.

Lieutenant Hewett said his leadership at the 377th Security Forces Squadron was very supportive of his ambition to attend the school and said that if he could make it past the pre-Ranger School tryouts, then he could attend the two-month long course. He went to Nellis Air Force Base for three weeks of tryouts that the Air Force holds to screen and select Airmen to attend Ranger School. Out of 14 Airmen in the screening process, Lieutenant Hewett was one of five selected to attend Ranger School.

At Ranger School, Lieutenant Hewett was one of two Airmen to begin the course. However, he was the only non-Army servicemember to graduate the course in January. He said that he felt an even greater urgency to do well in the course being the only Airman.

Lieutenant Hewett said that if you come to Ranger School in tiptop physical condition, the physical element of training is still grueling, but by far the most difficult part is the mental element. Although Lieutenant Hewett and some of the other Ranger students had participated in the Ranger Challenge in college, he said that the challenge was not even close to what he experienced in the school.

"It was just the tip of the iceberg as far as what I was actually getting myself into," he said.

The most important thing he says he learned at Ranger School was that even when everything around you is difficult, maintaining a positive attitude can get you through the most difficult times. He said that during half of the course, Ranger students slept outside and living conditions were less than favorable. He said that his training there helps him to pay greater attention to detail in training because even the smallest of details can have a magnitude of effect on the greater scheme of things.

Lieutenant Hewett said that the training he received at Ranger School helps him daily here in his assignment in security forces and said it will continue to prove invaluable when he deploys to Iraq in July.

"After Ranger training, I have a greater confidence in myself to do the job I'm assigned and am more willing to accept new tasks and challenges," Lieutenant Hewett said.

Lieutenant Hewett is the first member of 377th SFS to graduate from Ranger School, though 1st Lt. Brandon McKinnon will be attending Ranger School in May. Staff Sgt. Travis Griffin has also been selected to attend the school.