Since its inception in 2007, the Phoenix Raven program, from Air Mobility Command headquarters, has graduated more than 3,000 trained individuals, including Staff Sgt. Lyndanesha Martin, of the 145th Security Forces Squadron.
“Being a Raven in the Air National Guard is like having a special duty,” Martin said. “You are always in security forces but you can get picked up for jobs if they need you. You have to stay conditioned and continue performance evaluations for it.”
The Phoenix Raven program is a four-week training in which a selected few individuals from security forces are chosen to provide security for Air Mobility Command aircraft flying through and landing in high threat areas. The first step to becoming a Phoenix Raven starts at home base by expressing interest in the program, then by completing an indoctrination course that prepares the individual for what to expect at the four-week program.
“The first week we worked on ASP (Armament Systems and Procedures)/ baton training, the next week we worked on combative initiatives and throwing people around, the third week was weapons takeaway, which I enjoyed, and we fought each other that week,” Martin said. “Everyone thought I did well in the small circle fight against a man that was much taller than me. I took him to the ground, which he did not expect. It was hard because he was heavy but I did it. Week four was classroom and field training exercises plus tests and running six miles.”
With long training days and a packed syllabus, becoming a Raven is not for the faint of heart.
“We started with 36 and dropped to 34,” Martin said. “Raven is a whole different mindset; you have to be mentally ready for that school, it’s not just physical. You have to hold in your emotions while working 14-hour days and missing family.”
Martin had a unique motivator to boost her confidence through the Phoenix Raven program.
“I had a time when I wanted to quit and I didn’t want to do it anymore, but then Master Sgt. Mark Dow, my supervisor at the time, was talking to me while we were running and through his guidance and joining CrossFit, I felt more confident,” Martin said. “It was funny because I felt like I wasn’t progressing physically so I joined CrossFit, and I love it now. I was telling the gym owner the other day that I joined CrossFit to become a Raven and I just went through the school and since I’d been going for so long before attending the training that I forgot that’s why I joined and it helped me so much.”
Now that Martin is officially a Raven, she might be called up to complete her duties.
“I don’t know what’s next,” she said. “I think it will be an easy juggle with my civilian life and military life because I don’t have to go on every mission. There are so many options. I hope to go on a stage which is when you go somewhere that flies out a lot – they’re out of places like Germany.”
While she might be the first, she is likely not the last female Raven to cross into the North Carolina Air National Guard.
“We have another one [female] that might be trying to go into the Phoenix Raven Program soon,” Martin said. “I think if there’s something out there that you want, then go get it.”Read comments