129th Rescue Wing Holds Biggest Enlistment Ceremony for PJ Candidates in Years

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CA, UNITED STATES
05.25.2021
Story by Airman 1st Class Kevin Nious
129th Rescue Wing


129th Rescue Wing Holds Biggest Enlistment Ceremony for PJ Candidates in Years

MOFFETT AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Calif. - Recruiters with the 129th Rescue Wing held an enlistment ceremony May 25, on the flight line to welcome the wing’s five newest pararescue trainees. Tobin Martens, Jack Boyes, Jennings Undlin, William Haug and Nicholas Win were selected from a group of 17 individuals who completed the U.S. Air Force Pararescue Physical Ability and Stamina Test earlier in the day.

Officials who conducted the ceremony believe the team of five is one of the biggest groups of pararescue recruits this base has ever selected.

“It was one of my top moments in recruiting for sure,” said U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Fernando Borrego, a recruiter with the 129th RQW. “At the end of the day, our mission is about saving lives, so if I can get individuals to sign up for that, that's huge.”

According to Borrego, the wing typically invites only four or five pararescue prospects to take the PAST at once. Of those invited, only one is usually selected to take the oath of enlistment. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced staff to cancel the test for most of 2020, creating a backlog of potential candidates waiting for a chance to join the 131st Rescue Squadron.

“That’s a long time for these individuals to keep calling in, remain interested and remain in shape,” Borrego said.

To reduce the waitlist, the squadron began holding tryouts in groups of 15 or more to ensure there’s a steady pipeline of qualified individuals. After enlisting, candidates must successfully complete more than two years of special warfare, airborne, survival and medical training in order to become a pararescue specialist.

“When we talk about service before self, this is an even higher (responsibility),” Borrego said. “These guys are willing to lay down their lives just to save somebody in distress.”

May’s evaluation was only the second test held on base since the pandemic began, with the first occurring back in September, 2020. Recruits from across the country traveled to Moffett Field, representing states such as Oregon, Colorado, Minnesota and Maryland, with no guarantee they will be selected.

“It's really great to have made it past that process and get to swear in, but now the real work begins,” said U.S. Air Force trainee Nicholas Win.

A 28-year-old native of Portland, Oregon, Win said he researched pararescue units across the country before deciding to tryout for the 131st RQS.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time, it’s a childhood dream,” Win said. “I heard a lot of great things about the operations that pararescue does, particularly with the (Grand Princess) cruise ship.”

Despite the honor of being selected, Win said he doesn’t intend to rest on his laurels because he knows he still has a long road ahead.

“As soon as I get that beret, that’s when it’s going to sink in, so I’m just trying to stay hungry,” said Win.
 
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