Special-ops squadron looks for fresh recruits at Yokota
May 13, 2006
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Wrapping up a worldwide search for airmen with that “certain type of attitude,” a 24th Special Tactics Squadron recruiting team made its pitch at Yokota this week, meeting with major units and conducting an open briefing Thursday in the base theater.
The 200-member squadron, which has integral assignments in the war on terror, seeks to fill 50 additional special-operations jobs by October, recruiters said.
“We’re a selective unit. Everyone is handpicked,” said chief recruiter Master Sgt. Jerome Garrison, with the squadron since 1995. “It’s probably going to take at least 300 applicants to fill the 50 positions we need.”
The squadron, out of Pope Air Force Base, N.C., is the branch’s lead unit in developing special tactics and procedures for combat control, pararescue and combat weather skills.
It’s been named the Air Force Special Operations Command’s Squadron of the Year three consecutive times and won the Air Force Association’s 2005 Citation of Honor, which recognizes the unit that’s had the greatest impact on national defense, said the recruiters, who were making their lone Pacific stop at Yokota.
They wore civilian clothes and some sported beards — signature trademarks of the elite unit.
Several skills are needed, from intelligence and personnel specialists to computer operators and logistics planners, they said.
“We’re looking for … a certain type of attitude,” Garrison told airmen Thursday. “You have to think outside the box, be good under pressure, have good situational awareness.”
The squadron works closely with Army and Navy Special Forces, he added. Members serve a four-year tour and get $225 extra per month in special-duty pay — expected to increase to $375 — and annual civilian clothing allowances of $841 initially and $281 annually.
Only staff sergeants and above are accepted, but senior airmen can get waivers, Garrison said. He encouraged airmen E-3 and below to submit applications, which are stored for future reference.
Applicants must be U.S. citizens eligible for top-secret clearances with outstanding performance reports and no unfavorable information in their files.
Selected airmen report to Pope for a three-day assessment including psychological and medical screening, a physical fitness test, security interview and commander’s board.
Airmen can’t join the squadron until completing current overseas stints, he said, but can send in application packages “to put their foot in the door” and update the files accordingly.
Staff Sgt. Eric Fitzpatrick, an air transporter with the 730th Air Mobility Squadron, used to train with members of the unit when he was stationed at McChord Air Force Base, Wash. He said he’s unsure if he’ll apply but remains attracted by the diversified career options.
“Their units are the cream of the crop,” he said. “You’re working with folks that enjoy what they do. That just makes the daily work environment outstanding.”
For more information or to apply, contact Rick Hopfauf at DSN 383-2205 or (910) 243-2205. He can be reache by e-mail at email@example.com.