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105th Defenders Conquer Air Assault School

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Patrick Espeut
  • 105th Airlift Wing

Seven Defenders assigned to the 105th Base Defense Squadron celebrated completion of Air Assault School during a graduation ceremony held at West Point, New York August 6, 2023. Air Assault School is often called “the 10 toughest days in the Army” as it is both extremely physically and mentally demanding.

Air Assault School begins with “Day Zero”, which requires candidates to complete an obstacle course and a two-mile run to see if they have what it takes to make it through the next 10 days. Once the school begins, students are trained and evaluated on sling loads, rappelling and other skills for combat assault.

To be considered air assault qualified, members need to demonstrate their ability to properly rig and inspect different types of loads that the Army uses across their many helicopters, including the UH-60 Blackhawk, CH-47 Chinook and AH-64 Apache Helicopters. Soldiers and Airmen also had to perform multiple tower rappels, a simulated aircraft rappel and were pushed to their physical limits with heavy load ruck marches and intense workouts.

“The days are long. We would wake up at 0400 to do physical training and then move on to academics followed by hands on training,” said Senior Airman Christopher Navarro, a 105th Defender and graduate of the course. “There were tests throughout the course as well. You would be exhausted from the training all day, but you would still have to spend the evening studying and then prepare to attack everything again the next day.”

Even graduation day was not an opportunity to relax. Before the ceremony, the students and faculty completed a 12-mile ruck march before finally earning their Air Assault wings.

“It was a really good experience. I was really proud at the end because it is an Army school, so it meant a lot that I was one of seven Airmen to graduate,” Navarro said.

This year’s class started out with 260 students but only 185 made it through to graduation. The 105th BDS was able to send seven Airmen to attend the training and all of them completed the grueling course.

The 105th BDS graduates included Master Sgt. Joel Rodriguez, Staff Sgt. William Suggs, Staff Sgt. Cristian Marulanda, Staff Sgt. Casey Clemente, Senior Airman Nixon Castro, Senior Airman Ibrahim Bah and Senior Airman Christopher Navarro.

“Having our Defenders complete Air Assault School not only inspires others to success, instills confidence and adds skill sets for agile combat employment movements, but it also enhances our interoperability with the Army in joint operations” said Maj. Brian Ibbs, the commander of the 105th BDS.

These 105th Defenders can now proudly wear the Army’s Air Assault badge, symbolizing their successful completion of the course.