by Karen Abeyasekere
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
3/9/2015 - RAF MILDENHALL, England -- A 100th
Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter has been selected to attend the
U.S. Marine Corps Staff NCO Academy March 2 to April 18, 2015, in
Due to attend the senior NCO academy, Master Sgt. Kenneth Wobse, 100th
Air Refueling Wing superintendent of wing plans and programs from St.
Paul, Minnesota, wanted to take the challenge a step further, and
applied to be part of the Marines' course for senior NCOs instead.
"I've been deployed before with other branches of service and I like
working with them - they have a different take on things," explained
Wobse. "I was really interested in working with them and learning how
they handle certain challenges they face as senior NCOs."
After going through a vetting process, 100th ARW leadership submitted a
package to U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Force Africa. The
USAFE-AFAFRICA command chief then selected Wobse and eight other Airmen
from the major command to compete at Air Force level. The final
selection was made by Chief Master Sgt. James A. Cody, Chief Master
Sergeant of the Air Force, for those Airmen to represent the Air Force
throughout the upcoming months amongst a large group of elite senior
enlisted Marines at the equivalent of the U.S. Air Force Senior NCO
The firefighter is one of six Airmen attending the current class,
focusing on building leadership qualities alongside 22 Marines. The
other Airmen will attend the Marine academy later this year.
"I want to make sure that they get a good representation of the Air
Force, and show them that we put a lot of value in our senior NCOs as
well," he said.
While Wobse understands the academy will have its share of challenges,
he's looking forward to the opportunities he faces while there.
"Networking with the sister service means I'll meet other people," Wobse
added. "My career field of fire protection is small, and our school is a
joint one between all branches of service, so we work with Marines in
fire protection. Also, I'm looking forward to having the chance to
perform alongside Marines and having the chance to undergo their
physical fitness program - everyone I've spoken with says it's very
rigorous, and I'm excited about that!"
Wobse said he'd looked at the Marines' fitness standards before leaving
for the class. They have a 3-mile run rather than a 1.5-mile run, and
include pull-ups in their physical fitness, along with sit-ups.
There are two different types of physical fitness test; in addition to the PFT, there is the combat fitness test.
The PFT is mandatory to graduate the course with a passing score, while
the CFT has additional fitness tasks, just to go above and beyond the
Wobse already has personal goals in mind for his time at the academy.
"They have three categories of fitness and I'd like to break into 'first
class' - their top tier of fitness," he said. "Of course, I want to
finish toward the top of my class; I read the Marine Corps requirements
for when they go to sister service academies, and it said something to
the effect of, 'As a Marine, you are expected to finish at the top of
your class.' I'd like to hold myself to that same standard, and finish
toward the top."
Being one of just six Airmen in the sister service's senior NCO class
means the master sergeant has a chance to bring something extra to the
"I'm looking forward to representing my service," he said. "I want to
show them we have a lot of things we can share with other branches of
the service, even though we're relatively young."
Wobse is looking forward to having the experience of the U.S. Marine Corps Staff NCO Academy under his belt.
"Senior NCO academy is like a rite of passage for every master sergeant
that hopes to be promoted to senior master sergeant," he said. "I think
this will give me a different perspective than the majority of my peers
will have, and I think that will make me more beneficial in a joint
The firefighter proved he'd earned his place at the challenging academy.
He was named 2014 Fire Officer of the Year for USAFE-AFAFRICA, and
promotion results released March 5 announced Wobse has earned the rank
of senior master sergeant.
"I've never found out that I've been selected for promotion while I was
at home station," he said before the results were announced. "I've
always either been on leave or TDY, so the timing works out well for me,
being superstitious as I am. I'm hoping third time's a charm!"
Wobse's leadership has complete confidence in him, and said he's one of the 100th CES's sharpest NCOs.
"He's the perfect example to represent the 100th ARW and the Air Force
at the USMC Staff NCO Academy," said Lt. Col. Kevin Parker, 100th CES
commander. "I've had several opportunities to observe Ken's leadership
skills, and he always stands out. While serving in my squadron at a
deployed location, he ran fire department operations at a base with
several thousand personnel from joint services on a daily basis.
"It was no surprise to me that he volunteered for the challenge of
attending joint professional military education with the Marine Corps,
and it will be no surprise to me when he performs well there. I know the
Marines attending and instructing the school will get a good idea of
what the Air Force's sharpest SNCOs are like when they interact with
Master Sgt. Wobse," he said.