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Ravens spread wings to secure C-130s worldwide

Canteens, boots and binders rest on the mat of the 19th Security Forces Squadron’s version of the “House of Pain,” Feb. 15, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The “House of Pain” is a nickname of the Air Mobility Command’s Phoenix Raven Qualification Course at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. Little Rock AFB Ravens prepared and trained three other 19th Security Forces Squadron Airmen to prepare for the physically intensive three-week, 12-hour-a-day course that covers subjects such as cross-cultural awareness, airfield survey techniques, explosive ordnance awareness, aircraft searches and self-defense techniques. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Senior Airman Harry Brexel)

Canteens, boots and binders rest on the mat of the 19th Security Forces Squadron’s version of the “House of Pain,” Feb. 15, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The “House of Pain” is a nickname of the Air Mobility Command’s Phoenix Raven Qualification Course at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. Little Rock AFB Ravens prepared and trained three other 19th Security Forces Squadron Airmen to prepare for the physically intensive three-week, 12-hour-a-day course that covers subjects such as cross-cultural awareness, airfield survey techniques, explosive ordnance awareness, aircraft searches and self-defense techniques. (U.S. Air Force graphic/Senior Airman Harry Brexel)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Timothy Bukovich, 19th Security Forces Squadron patrolman, center, receives motivation from 19th SFS Phoenix Ravens during a rigorous physical training session Feb. 15, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The Ravens trained other Airmen to see if they have what it takes to graduate the Air Mobility Command’s Phoenix Raven Qualification Course. Raven teams protect aircraft, crews and cargo from criminal and terrorist threats while traveling through airfields where security is either unknown or inadequate. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Harry Brexel)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Timothy Bukovich, 19th Security Forces Squadron patrolman, center, receives motivation from 19th SFS Phoenix Ravens during a rigorous physical training session Feb. 15, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The Ravens trained other Airmen to see if they have what it takes to graduate the Air Mobility Command’s Phoenix Raven Qualification Course. Raven teams protect aircraft, crews and cargo from criminal and terrorist threats while traveling through airfields where security is either unknown or inadequate. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Harry Brexel)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Nicholas Pineda, defends himself against Staff Sgt. Madonna Henard, both 19th Security Forces Squadron patrolmen, during Phoenix Raven pre-training Feb. 17, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. There are currently four 19th SFS Ravens that protect aircraft, crews and cargo from criminal and terrorist threats while traveling through airfields where security is either unknown or inadequate. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Harry Brexel)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Nicholas Pineda, defends himself against Staff Sgt. Madonna Henard, both 19th Security Forces Squadron patrolmen, during Phoenix Raven pre-training Feb. 17, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. There are currently four 19th SFS Ravens that protect aircraft, crews and cargo from criminal and terrorist threats while traveling through airfields where security is either unknown or inadequate. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Harry Brexel)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Timothy Bukovich, 19th Security Forces Squadron patrolman, performs flutter kicks during a “smoke session” Feb. 15, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Bukovich and two other Airmen completed a weeklong training course to prepare for Air Mobility Command’s Phoenix Raven Qualification Course, also known as the “House of Pain.” (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Harry Brexel)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Timothy Bukovich, 19th Security Forces Squadron patrolman, performs flutter kicks during a “smoke session” Feb. 15, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Bukovich and two other Airmen completed a weeklong training course to prepare for Air Mobility Command’s Phoenix Raven Qualification Course, also known as the “House of Pain.” (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Harry Brexel)

U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 19th Security Forces Squadron form a barrier around Airman 1st Class Timothy Bukovich, 19th SFS patrolman, during close combat training, Feb. 17, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The “Red Man” exercise was the capstone event of a weeklong course of Phoenix Raven instruction for Airmen attempting to join the little-known team of elite security commandos. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Harry Brexel)

U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 19th Security Forces Squadron form a barrier around Airman 1st Class Timothy Bukovich, 19th SFS patrolman, during close combat training, Feb. 17, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The “Red Man” exercise was the capstone event of a weeklong course of Phoenix Raven instruction for Airmen attempting to join the little-known team of elite security commandos. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Harry Brexel)

U.S. Air Force 19th Security Forces Squadron patrolmen, run in formation during a physical training session Feb. 15, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The Airmen completed a weeklong instruction course taught by 19th SFS Phoenix Ravens, to prepare them for Air Mobility Command’s Phoenix Raven Qualification Course. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Harry Brexel)

U.S. Air Force 19th Security Forces Squadron patrolmen, run in formation during a physical training session Feb. 15, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The Airmen completed a weeklong instruction course taught by 19th SFS Phoenix Ravens, to prepare them for Air Mobility Command’s Phoenix Raven Qualification Course. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Harry Brexel)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Taylor Sutton, right, 19th Security Forces Squadron Phoenix Raven and patrolman, motivates Airmen during a Raven pre-qualification training course Feb. 15, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. If the Airmen prove themselves and graduate Air Mobility Command’s Phoenix Raven Qualification Course, Little Rock AFB will have seven members of the elite forces to protect C-130s and their aircrews. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Harry Brexel)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Taylor Sutton, right, 19th Security Forces Squadron Phoenix Raven and patrolman, motivates Airmen during a Raven pre-qualification training course Feb. 15, 2017, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. If the Airmen prove themselves and graduate Air Mobility Command’s Phoenix Raven Qualification Course, Little Rock AFB will have seven members of the elite forces to protect C-130s and their aircrews. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Harry Brexel)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

The U.S. Air Force’s Air Mobility Command currently operates a fleet of more than 1,100 aircraft, yet only a small number of elite security forces Airmen are responsible for defending and protecting those aircraft and aircrews in locations across the globe.

The Airmen are known as “Phoenix Ravens” and Little Rock Air Force Base is currently home to a handful of these first-class Defenders. 

In 2016, four Little Rock Airmen completed the three week long, 12-hour-a-day Phoenix Raven Qualification Course at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. It was the first time in more than ten years that 19th Security Forces Squadron Airmen graduated the course, often called “The House of Pain.”

“The course was by far the most challenging thing I’ve done in my life, both mentally and physically.” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Taylor Sutton, 19th SFS Phoenix Raven and patrolman. “But it was a huge achievement being among the first from our base to graduate in a long time.”

After the initial success, the 19th SFS is now preparing more of its Airmen for the notoriously intensive Ravens course.

Three Airmen were hand selected out of approximately 300 Defenders in the squadron, to be tested and see if they have what it takes to endure and graduate Phoenix Raven training.

The 19th SFS Ravens team constructed a weeklong schedule of intensive physical training sessions, defensive maneuver exercises, as well as classroom lessons on cross-cultural awareness, airfield survey techniques, explosive ordnance awareness and aircraft searches.

“When we first arrived for the Ravens course, we were somewhat blindsided,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Logan Catalfano, 19th SFS Phoenix Raven and patrolman. “We didn’t get an opportunity like this to prepare, but now we’re able to use what we learned to set up other Airmen for success.”

In January 2017 alone, U.S. Air Force mobility Airmen flew more than 28,000 missions. Catalfano and other Ravens from Little Rock AFB have already put their training to use in several of those operational missions by performing security, advising aircrews on force protection measures and conducting airfield assessments.

“It feels good to assist in bringing supplies and people to troops in need.” Catalfano said. “We have a direct impact on the mission.”

By the end of the initial Raven’s pre-training week, two 19th SFS Defenders passed the course and will head to New Jersey to attend the official qualification course soon.

If they successfully complete the program, the duo will graduate during the Phoenix Raven program’s 20th anniversary. The Airmen would routinely work with mobility aircrews in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Africa and South America in austere areas with little or no infrastructure.

“We want to build a name for ourselves, keep our graduation rate at 100 percent and generate more Ravens,” Catalfano said. “This is a huge accomplishment for us and it makes us proud of what we do. Above all, it’s fun and exciting.”

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