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Forging Resilience: Unveiling the Shared Skill Sets of Air Force Special Warfare Airmen and Boy Scouts

  • Published
  • By By Jennifer Gangemi
  • Special Warfare Training Wing

In a world of rapidly evolving technology and military advancement, foundational skill sets often get eclipsed. However, for one Air Force special reconnaissance Airman who recently graduated from the 352nd Special Warfare Training Squadron, his roots in the Boy Scouts serve as a cornerstone for his military career.


Hailing from Minnesota, this 27-year-old serviceman—who became an Eagle Scout at 17 and joined the Air Force at 24—always had an affinity for the outdoors. From camping and fishing to hiking and hunting, he found his passion early. Raised in a family where his older brother was a Boy Scout and his father assisted with Boy Scout troops, he was naturally drawn to scouting's structure and ethos.


Attending a high school with only 72 students in his graduating class, he thrived in the intimate setting of a small Boy Scout troop. "The structure and ranks helped me acclimate to the military," he said. That acclimatization has been crucial, especially given that the most challenging part of Special Warfare training is its grueling duration.


For this Airman, scouting was more than just a series of outdoor activities; it was about "strengthening character through actions to prepare yourself for a lifetime of leadership." The overlap between these foundational elements and military life has become so seamless that it's now "unconscious," he said.


"Being a good teammate, grit, and when it comes down to it, we all want to be here working toward a common goal," he emphasized, echoing the Boy Scout principles he internalized years ago. These traits seem to have been significant in overcoming setbacks, especially during Assessment & Selection and dive school portions of his training. "First time I [had a setback], I wasn't sure I wanted to finish, but I ended up pushing through and falling back on my training," he said.


Both in the Scouts and Air Force Special Warfare, living by an oath carries a similar weight. To this day, he can recite the Scout Oath and 12 points of Scout Law, valuing their teachings. He was initially motivated by the allure of being in the "life-saving business," which has evolved over time. "Motivations change along the journey," he said, acknowledging the spiritual and personal growth he has experienced. "I've stayed the same person, but I've increased my resiliency and stress tolerance."


Though he initially aspired to become a Navy SEAL, he found that the special reconnaissance career field was a better fit. It helped that he was no stranger to water. Growing up around lakes and working as a lifeguard, he easily earned Scouts' merit badges in swimming—another example of how the organization prepped him for military life.


"For scouts and special warfare, you don't have to be the best person, you have to be the right person," he said, summarizing a philosophy that has guided him from his Minnesota Boy Scout troop to the specialized corridors of Air Force training. As the Air Force undergoes a technical training transformation, this airman stands as a testament that sometimes, the basic skill sets are the most enduring.