Recruit earns coveted scarlet beret

  • Published
  • By Annette Crawford
  • Air Force Recruiting Service Public Affairs
Staff Sgt. Rene Ochoa is one happy recruiter, thanks to the achievements of Airman 1st Class Michael Guzman.

Guzman earned the coveted scarlet beret of a combat controller Sept.12 at Fort Bragg, N.C., after 16 months of intense military training.

"His achievement brings a welcome closure to and most importantly validation of nearly four years of hard work recruiting special ops applicants," Ochoa said. "I made one - just one operator - but this single graduate makes this four-year tour worth it."

Ochoa is an enlisted accessions recruiter in McAllen, Texas, with the 341st Recruiting Squadron.

"I've actually recruited 14 other special ops Airmen, and was my Squadron's No. 1 special ops recruiter for fiscal year 2013," he explained. "However, A1C Guzman is the only Airman of mine, to date, to make it through the entire course!"

The recruiter said Guzman was a Cross Fit champion before enlisting, so the main focus during training was swimming.

"We spent days in the pool, swimming thousands of meters, during the months leading up to his shipping out," Ochoa said.

Guzman, a native of Alamo, Texas, said the training was "definitely the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, but the end result makes it all worth it."

He added that "combat control has without a doubt some of the toughest training that the military has to offer. They're looking for quality over quantity."

With a washout rate near 90 percent, only four of the original 22 Airmen who started the class went on to earn the scarlet beret.

"I was looking for a challenge and wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself," said Guzman, a graduate of Sul Ross State University.

He is now at advanced skills training in Florida.

For more information on combat controllers and Special Tactics Airmen click here or check out this video.