Osan Defenders continue ‘Fight, Tonight’ tradition

Senior Airman Paul Lopes, 51st Security Forces Squadron Combat Readiness Course instructor, returns simulated fire as he fends off 51st SFS defenders during a CRC, Dec. 19, 2019, at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The course challenges Osan’s newest defenders on their readiness and skills to defend the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Greg Nash)
Senior Airman Paul Lopes, 51st Security Forces Squadron Combat Readiness Course instructor, returns simulated fire as he fends off 51st SFS defenders during a CRC, Dec. 19, 2019, at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea. The course challenges Osan’s newest defenders on their readiness and skills to defend the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Greg Nash)

Osan Defenders continue ‘Fight, Tonight’ tradition

by Staff Sgt. Greg Nash
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- For eight days, life was a grueling blur for a special group of new students. Although these elite ‘scholars’ had triumphed many tests previously, they were put to the ultimate challenge here: passing the 51st Security Forces Squadron’s Combat Readiness Course at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea.

By relying on each other, Osan’s newest defenders defied the high-stress course to graduate and earn their “Metal Tigers” squadron patches, Dec. 20, 2019.

For 51st SFS CRC instructor Staff Sgt. Rachel Newell, seeing the students reap the program’s benefits was rewarding.

“The Combat Readiness Course prepares our newly assigned [Security Forces] members on how to utilize their skills and tailor them in our specific environment,” Newell said. “Experiencing this unique training, the stressful curriculum and scenarios allows defenders to make the best decisions under pressure. By honing readiness, their actions can be become second nature for-real world scenarios.”

While most students dread a pop quiz or class presentation, the CRC students had even worse to look forward to: a week of hunger and fatigue.

Instead of drinking coffee to cram for a next day’s exam, these defenders drank water to stay hydrated while studying land navigation routes and fending off mock enemies. Through it all, the students overcame adversity by trusting their comrades.

“Facing challenges that I didn’t experience before in my young career and overcoming the [course’s] obstacles with my teammates was exciting,” said Airman 1st Class Alexander Wilde, 51st SFS. “The night operation was my favorite scenario because it taught me a lot about teamwork and communication. Overall, we learned to put egos aside to find out better ways to overcome things.”

According to Wilde, early on he was very reserved. After vocalizing his ideas, his classmates influenced him to give more feedback to help the team.

For the CRC instructors, seeing younger Airmen beginning to take charge and make decisions is the growth they want to see.

Because of this progression, Wilde, who transformed from being the quiet kid in the classroom to a vocal leader encouraging his comrades to finish strong during a ruck, was honored by his peers by earning the Defender Award, which distinguishes the top graduate with the highest professionalism, conduct and hard work.

“I was shocked, I thought plenty of people deserved the award,” Wilde said. “I never viewed myself to be in the spotlight but I was smiling hard when I received it. I just want to thank my team for honoring me and apply what I learned here to be a better defender.”

Through it all, the instructors were happy to see another class graduate and become better equipped to complete Osan’s mission.

“These defenders dug deep to finish this very demanding course,” Newell said. “They experienced long hours, frustration with trying to work with new people they just met and hunger. But after overcoming these courses, the base can expect more confident and competent Airmen. Many Airmen come through this course extremely shy or afraid to step up but afterwards, they leave here knowing they are equipped to ‘Fight, Tonight.’”

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