SOLDIER STORIES: Airman Ranger retires after 41 years of service.
(Photo and article by Staff Sergeant Cynthia Spalding, 29 May 2012 & 29 June 2012. Full article available here. Caption: US Air Force Colonel George Hays poses in front of old military memorabilia that captures his time in the Air Force. Hays retired from the Air Force, 1 July 2012.)
As a lieutenant, Hays didn’t at first get the job he wanted. After patient waiting and hard work, he started to land some highly competitive positions. As a captain, Hays spent four years with the Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., in a position that required a hi-altitude, low-opening and static-line parachutist, to lead a joint communications team. He had 67 communicators, which included 12 Army Rangers, six Green Berets, one Navy SEAL and two Force Reconnaissance Marines.
Hays said he didn’t get this job with pure luck. The infamous physical fitness test is something Hays excelled in ever since he joined. Never scoring below 100 percent, the special operations physical included a six-mile run, 12-mile ruck march, sit-ups, push-ups and pull-ups. In-between his second and third interviews for the position, the commander had initially not wanted to accept Hays due to his lack of experience. However, after hearing that Hays blew everyone out of the water on this test, the commander commented, “I think you can learn” and Hays got the position.
Hays didn’t stop doing everything he could then. Everyone in the unit was airborne. A Ranger slot was opened and he was given the spot.
“Everyone had excuses, and I went to the boss and said that I wanted it,” Hays said. “And the boss said ‘you’re Air Force.’ So I told him ‘you know I’m in good physical shape. Boss, I have 30 days and 67 people working for me and I’ll spend all my time in the field if I need to.’”
Hays explained how his bosses, both Army Rangers, “kind of leaned” back in their chair and looked at him saying same thing. Thirty days later, he left for Army Ranger School. This wasn’t a school to teach him skills - it was a school to see if he could lead under simulated combat conditions, taking away his sleep, his normal food supply, and every day he’d go on a convoy, raid or ambush. Hays graduated in February 1989 as one of 13 airmen to receive the Ranger tab up to that time.
“Even though it was joint, a majority of my people were Army, so having that Ranger tab became a huge credibility factor for me and the special ops community,” Hays said. “So instead of just an Air Force captain with my jump wings, HALO jump wings, and master parachutist wings, I was now what they call a ‘master-blaster with halo wings and a Ranger tab’ and gained instant credibility.”
Man, even if this guy didn’t sound like a total badass (according to this summary), he did 41 YEARS in the Air Force. The mind, it fucking boggles. (Also: original story here)