UW Air Force ROTC Student Selected for Specialized Combat Training
Joey Meier of Franktown, Colo., a University of Wyoming junior in civil engineering, is one of nine Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) cadets nationwide selected for Combat Rescue Officer Phase II training Oct. 12-19 at Washington’s Fairchild Air Force Base.
Combat Rescue Officers (CRO) specialize in combat search and rescue, and are among the top medical combatants in the Department of Defense (DOD). They are specially trained to penetrate into denied territory through various means, including rappelling, parachuting, or SCUBA to recover personnel, such as downed aircrew. CROs and their enlisted equivalents, pararescuemen, maintain their medical skills to stabilize and treat combat injuries of those they rescue before returning them to friendly forces. The DOD reports that CROs have saved more than 12,000 lives since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
To achieve CRO status, candidates must complete a challenging and lengthy selection and training pipeline. Phase II is one of the initial and most demanding hurdles an aspiring CRO candidate must complete. To prepare for Phase II, Meier does three-mile running sessions, 1,500-meter swims, and rucksack marches up to six miles.
“Meier has the strengths and ability that are needed for this type of a career,” says former UW AFROTC Detachment Commander Lt. Col. Michael Tuers. “When I talked to him about the possibility in 2012, he learned that this field could be a great opportunity for him.”
Current UW AFROTC Detachment Commander Lt. Col. Neil Anderson adds, “It takes a unique and special personality to compete for CRO. I believe Cadet Meier is among those with the potential to succeed in this demanding career field.”
Meier will be tested on survival skills, physical endurance, mental aptitude and leadership skills. He attended a Special Tactics Officer Professional Development Training (PDT) at Hurlburt Field, Fla., this summer, so he knows what he will face.
“I will be pushed to my physical and mental limits, but it's all worth it,” Meier says. “I discovered that this is what I want to do with my life. The PDT reassured me that this is the lifestyle that I want. I'm OK with it."
Meier is the only UW AFROTC cadet who is training for CRO.
“CROs must be able to rely on each other and trust each other fully to complete the mission,” he says. “The Air Force family is close, but that of a CRO is 10 times that of the average Air Force officer.”
Being able to save lives is why Meier says he wants to be a CRO.
"My ability to stay calm in high pressure situations could be the difference between someone coming back in a casket or coming back to their family," he says.
Joey Meier (Kylee Ashton Photo)