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    Airman earns Top Gun — Airman Insight: Senior Airman Brennan Paden

    Airman earns Top Gun

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Tony Harp | U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Brennan Paden, a security forces specialist with the...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Tony Harp 

    193rd Special Operations Wing

    MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — Senior Airman Brennan Paden, a security forces specialist with the 193rd Special Operations Security Forces Squadron, was named the Top Gun designated marksman during his Designated Marksman training Sept. 23-27 at Fort Custer, Michigan.

    Paden distinguished himself as the top marksman amongst a class of 24 Airmen.

    Paden said the week-long training began with two days of classroom instruction, learning the ins and outs of marksmanship. Airmen learned the trajectory of the round inflight and gained an understanding how to use these concepts for engaging targets at longer ranges. Airmen spent the rest of the week on the range firing on targets up to 600 meters away with an M4 Carbine equipped with an Advanced Optical Combat Gunsight.

    The Mifflintown native recently sat down for a light-hearted conversation about his experience at the designated marksmanship training, self-improvement and other random knowledge.

    What did you learn from the training that you would want to pass on to your fellow Airmen?

    - Learn to trust your equipment. Technically the Air Force says that the effective range of the M4 is 550 meters to a point target and we basically pushed our equipment further than what it was supposed to be designed for. Through good training we were effective even though we were working outside our statute of limitations.

    What brought you into the military?

    - My dad. He’s been in the military for over 35 years. He’s in the Army National Guard, as a helicopter pilot. He told me to join the Air Force, because I was looking into the Army beforehand. Not the cliche part of “being part of something bigger than myself”, but I like to shoot, I like camaraderie and stuff too, so I thought it would be a really neat way to get myself around people that like the same kind of stuff as me. So far it’s been great. The people I work with are awesome.

    Have you ever had a failure or a setback that either directly set you up for success or provided you with a lesson learned that indirectly set you up for success later?

    - The big setback I had career-wise was I broke my wrist after basic training. It set me back a solid six months total, from going to tech school and starting up. That delay kind of actually gave me a little bit of perspective to think about it more. I wasn't originally assigned to this unit, [originally assigned to the 201st RED HORSE Squadron as security forces]. I was drilling here more often, not to say I fell in love with the place, but I really started to like the people around here. If I hadn’t gotten injured and gone straight through, I might not actually be here full-time.

    The military can be very stressful at times. When things start to get overwhelming, do you have a routine or a way to help refresh your mind and get refocused? How does this question relate to firing your weapon?

    - I don’t even know, it’s habit now. I just kind of clear my mind of anything and literally all I think about is… It’s kind of weird but I think about the mechanism of how the weapon functions. It sounds kind of weird but it’s just like, as I’m thinking about it, I’m really taking my time pulling the trigger which is releasing the sear, which is releasing the hammer, which hits the firing pin, which hits the primer, which lights the propellent. I think it just gives me something to take my mind off of literally anything else. Thinking about that kind of calms my heart rate down and clears my mind, so I’m just thinking of that and what’s in front of me.

    What keeps you motivated/focused?

    - I don’t like being complacent. I get bored quickly so I’m always trying to think of what’s the next thing I could be doing, how can I make myself better at this. Or also what I’ll do is I’ll just analyze my weak points and try and make my weak points my strongest points. Then my stronger points are weaker so it’s kind of like a cycle.

    How do you stay productive?

    - Make sure others hold me accountable. At the same time too, we don’t let each other, I don’t want to say fall behind, but get lackadaisical.

    What advice would you give to a young Airman that is just joining the military or looking to progress their career?

    - Don’t be afraid to try stuff. When I was going through BMT and tech school, I kept hearing people say, don’t volunteer for stuff, don’t volunteer for stuff. I just think that’s kind of silly, because if you don’t volunteer for anything, whenever there’s something cool or a good opportunity you’re not going to get picked because you don’t do anything. If you volunteer for stuff, all you’re literally doing is building your skill set, learning new things, making yourself useful and then you yourself can be a teacher to your peers. Then you are indirectly making others better because you are making yourself better.

    Is there a book that has influenced you that you would recommend?

    - The “Gates of Fire” by Steven Pressfield is a good book.

    Do you have any obscure/unusual interests or hobbies?

    - I shoot a lot, I don’t know if that’s obscure. I also race motocross.

    Do you have a “go-to” workout? What is it?

    - I do a lot of powerlifting. So normally my go-to workout is squats or assistance exercises for squats. Proper squats to depth, not the weird little things people do.

    What fictional character do you resonate the most with? Heroic or non-heroic?

    - Tony Stark is pretty cool, he doesn’t care about anybody’s opinion, he just does his own thing, and he cares about the people around him. He cares but he doesn’t care.

    Do you have any random knowledge to part with?

    - Anything?… I don’t know if it’s true or not, but apparently in Canada. In 2009, since Canadians say sorry so much, they made it so saying sorry to someone after an accident or something wasn’t an admission of guilt. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but that’s something I heard.

    *A search online provided that this statement was in fact true, Canada did implement an Apology Act in 2009 that stipulates an apology of any kind, “means an expression of sympathy or regret” and not “an admission of fault or liability in connection with the matter to which the words or actions relate.”



    Date Taken: 11.15.2019
    Date Posted: 11.15.2019 15:47
    Story ID: 351972
    Location: MIDDLETOWN, PA, US 

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