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Duke Reservist first to complete Marine course.

Among a sea of gunnery sergeants, a senior master sergeant from Duke Field, Fla., became the first Air Force Reservist to complete the advanced course at the Marine Corps Staff NCO Academy.

Senior Master Sgt. Bruce Tims received his graduation certificate Oct. 14. In addition to being the first Reservist, he was just the seventh Airman to ever graduate from the seven-week course at Camp Lejeune, N.C. The course is similar to the Air Force's Senior NCO Academy but focuses on Marine-specific topics such as combat operations, close air support, professional briefings, physical training and joint doctrine in a deployed environment.

"It was such a great experience," said Tims, who received his senior stripe via the Promotion Enhancement Program while completing the course. "The physical training helped tremendously, and the lessons I learned could be taken and integrated back at my unit."

Tims admitted to being a little hesitant and intimidated about attending the Marine academy at first. When he applied, he had hoped to get chosen for the Coast Guard course.

"Senior Tims came off a little quiet at first, but after hanging out with us, that changed real quick," said Gunnery Sgt. Douglas Haynesworth of the 4th Marine Corps District, who attended the course with Tims.

Tims' attendance at the course said a lot about him, according to former Marine NCO Academy instructor retired Sgt. Maj. Scott Standfast,

"The fact that the Air Force would trust the Marine Corps in his professional training and development as a leader is a compliment," Standfast said.

Tims said he had to learn the Marine Corps' customs and way of life on the fly.

"There was no easing into it," Tims said. "It was pick it up as you go along, similar to being placed into a different culture. The hardest part about it was trying to understand and interpret each situation and apply it to an Air Force experience."

Tims said the most challenging aspect of the course was the physical training. Every morning began with a run in the utility uniform, minus the blouse, followed by various exercises that changed daily. Meeting the Marine Corps physical fitness standards and completing the combat fit test were required for graduation. The CFT involves completing various timed events on a combat obstacle course.

"Physical training has never been my strong suit," said Tims, who was one of only a few people over 40 attending the course. "As the only Air Force member, I was determined never to fall behind or be the slowest person. I knew I'd never hear the end of it, and I didn't want to be 'that guy.' Trash-talking was a great motivating tool and used by everyone there."

Tims said the workouts paid off. He earned a "first class" on the CFT, scoring 287 out of a possible 300 points. After the October graduation, his Air Force PT score rose significantly when he tested during the November unit training assembly.

Tims said he volunteered for a joint PME course because it was "outside the box," and he encourages others to take the chance if offered.

"It's a rare opportunity," said the 19-year veteran and air reserve technician. "If there's an opening for a course like this, jump on it. If you're interested, don't wait, seek it out." (Tech. Sgt. Samuel King Jr., 919th Special Operations Wing public affairs)
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Title Annotation:ROUND THE RESERVE
Publication:Citizen Airman
Date:Feb 1, 2012
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