Two Altus friends aim high

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Myles Stepp
  • 97 Air Mobility Wing-Public Affairs
"Deep down, I know that I have a purpose," said 19-year-old John Veirs.

John Veirs and good friend 18-year-old Wade Wanke are in the delayed enlistment program for the United States Air Force. Both have their hearts set on becoming a part of one of the Air Force's elite teams, Pararescue.

Pararescue is a male-only team that deploys combat ready rescue and recovery specialists. PJs, or pararescumen, support Air Force and special operations combat search and rescue and personnel recovery. They are precision parachutists capable of penetrating hostile areas in order to aid survivors.

PJs can parachute in full scuba equipment, giving them an unique rescue capability. Also parachuting skills help in providing specialized aerospace rescue and recovery support for NASA's Space Shuttle flights.

Before departing for training at Lackland AFB, Texas, applicants must first pass the physical ability and stamina test made up of multiple high-demand exercises including: a 500-meter swim under 11:30, two 20-meter underwater swims, a 1.5-mile run under 10:22, at least six chin-ups in one minute, at least 45 push-ups in two minutes, and at least 45 sit-ups in two minutes.

Wanke and Veirs have taken and fulfilled the requirements for the physical ability and stamina test and await their transition from civilian life into the United States Air Force.

On July 17, Veirs participated in Altus' 2nd annual triathlon in preparation for their chosen careers. The triathlon consisted of a one-mile swim (22 laps), 21.6-mile bike course, and a 7.2-mile run on Altus AFB.

Temperatures reached up to the high 90s as Veirs and Wanke and the other 36 contestants competed in the event.

"Literally within the fist 100 yards at the beginning of the run, John and I both were questioning why we were doing this. I think the only reason I kept going is because he was going and we are both competitive with each other and if I were to quit before him he would never let it go," said Wanke.

Both Wanke and Veirs finished the event at 5 hours and 13 minutes to the cheer of their timing officials and other finished contestants.

"It's not important that they won, or didn't; what's important is that they didn't give up," said Staff Sgt. James Porter, 349th 'Forty-Niners' Flight Recruiting Squadron. That's what I expect from these two outstanding young men. If you want to join the Air Force, you can't give up."

Wanke has a training assignment of October 19 and John is still awaiting a date.

"I think it's great that my only son wants to join not only the Air Force, but one of the most challenging jobs it has to offer. I am very proud of him." said Tech. Sgt. James Wanke, 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron.