More than 4,000 soldiers go through the prestigious U.S. Army Ranger School each year. The number of U.S. Air Force airmen who have completed the course since its inception in 1950 is only a little over 300. Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity alumnus Marcos Silverio is now among those elite airman rangers.
On July 10, 2015, Senior Airman Silverio, a 2009 initiate of the fraternity’s Beta Omicron chapter at Northwestern State University, graduated from Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia. After watching the Rangers in Action demonstration, friends, family, and fellow Rangers assisted in pinning the coveted black and gold Ranger tabs on graduates. Silverio selected his father for the honor. “I certainly could not have done this without the support of my family and dear friends.”
While the course is exhaustively physical, it’s largely concerned with building small-unit leadership skills. The course averages 19 hours of training per day, seven days a week. It creates students proficient in tactics and techniques for operations in wooded, mountainous, jungle and swamp environments.
Ranger School begins with the Benning Phase, which is designed to assess a Soldier’s physical stamina and mental toughness, as well as establish the tactical fundamentals required for the follow-on phases of Ranger School. During this 21-day phase, Ranger Instructors coach, teach, and mentor each student to sustain themselves, sustain their subordinates, maintain mission essential equipment, and accomplish the mission under difficult field training conditions. Students also undergo fast paced instruction on troop leading procedures, the principles of patrolling, demolitions, field craft, and basic battle drills such as squad ambush and react to contact. They must participate in a parachute jump and negotiate 20 obstacles stretched over one mile of hilly terrain.
During the Mountain Phase at Camp Frank D. Merrill near Dahlonega, Georgia, students receive instruction on military mountaineering tasks, mobility training, as well as techniques for employing a platoon for continuous combat patrol operations in a mountainous environment. This training further develops the students’ ability to plan and lead small units during independent and coordinated airborne, air assault, small boat, and dismounted patrol operations in a combat environment against a determined and well-equipped hybrid threat-based opposing force.
Camp Rudder, located on Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, serves as the home of the third and final phase of Ranger School, which focuses on the continued development of the students’ leadership and small unit tactics.
“I have learned to view life from the seat of my soul,” Silverio said. “There’s no better feeling than setting a goal and fighting for it until you have conquered it.”
Silverio enlisted in the Air Force in 2012 and currently lives in Valdosta, Georgia.