By Dave Smith
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Surprises are not unusual during a deployment, but Senior Airman Nathan Bowman, an Airman from the 21st Force Support Squadron who normally works in the Aragon dining facility, received a unique and rare opportunity for an Airman while serving away from home.
Bowman was one of only two Airmen selected to participate in the Marine Corps Corporals Leadership Course held in Southwest Asia Jan. 25-Feb. 19. The course provides instruction on leadership, warfighting skills, basic squad close order drill, land navigation, and learning use of the NCO sword.
“Senior Airman Bowman was selected based upon his superior work ethic, military bearing, dress and appearance standards and physical capability,” said Master Sgt. Kristin Castillo, 332nd Air Expeditionary Group Sustainment Services superintendent. “We knew he was going to face a lot of adversity and we were confident he was going to rise above the challenges and represent the Air Force well in this joint professional military education environment.”
“I applied for the course because I knew it would be a unique experience getting to know and work alongside the Marines, and see just how differently they do things compared to the Air Force,” Bowman said.
He gained valuable skills in areas such as speech, land navigation, sword and guide-on manual, mentoring subordinates, and writing EPRs. The biggest takeaway Bowman got from the course is the camaraderie and motivation shown by his Marine classmates. He noted the Marines did not complain after the toughest day of physical training. Instead, they were motivated and pumped up to do more, something Bowman said was contagious.
“The best memory I have of the course was our hardest day of PT,” Bowman said. “The instructors split everyone up into pairs. There were 10 stations set up and the first pair to complete all 10 stations would win. It was rigorous to say the least. There were several people throwing up, but, in the end my partner and I came in first place. Most of the class told me I earned their respect that day.”
The selection to the course of any other service member at all is not typical so having Bowman and another Airman participate with the Marines is a special occurrence. There were 51 total students in the course.
“I have been the director of five Corporals Leadership Courses and this was the first time we had a sister service represented,” said 1st Sgt. Jason Politte, Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force for Crisis with Central Command. He said Bowman performed well and earned respect from his Marine classmates.
“Senior Airman Bowman performed well during this course, his squad spoke highly of him,” Politte said. “There is always going to be friendly banter between services, but just like in our fight against ISIS… it is a team effort that will win in the end. I hope he takes what he learned from the Marine noncommissioned officers back and shares it with his peers and subordinates.”
The course teaches participants the basic knowledge and skills necessary to be successful small-unit leaders. Politte said the intent of this particular command sponsored corporals course was having corporals complete it confident in their leadership abilities and also with a reasonable comfort level of the material covered.
“They should have also graduated with a belief that their course experience has been worthwhile,” Politte said. “We also had a 5k hike, multiple PT sessions, and a Warriors night (mess night) and motivation run. It was a great opportunity to be able to run a Corporals Leadership Course while forward deployed, even more so to be able to have sister services join in on the personal and professional development.”