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Staff Sgt. Miguel Castro received his wings Friday during an Airborne graduation on Eubanks Field. Less than three months shy of his 52nd birthday, the combat medic kept up with Soldiers more than three decades his junior throughout the course.
Its fairly demanding, he said of the three-week course populated by mostly 18- to 22-year-old students.
Thats where I get all my energy, he said, from the young guys. The instructors push you. The other Soldiers push you. Its like a team effort. The first week youre always running everywhere. Youre training, training, training. It takes a toll on the body. I was hurting just like anybody. You have to be able to adapt really quickly to different situations. You have to react. Its not hard. Its just a matter of you doing it.
The Miami native PCSed to Fort Benning in April to join the 4th Ranger Training Battalion. He worked there briefly as a section sergeant before transitioning to become the commanding generals driver. In his 14-year Army career, including three deployments, it was his first time stationed here, and Castro said he had hoped to attend both Airborne and Ranger schools.
But it wasnt until his supervisor, the generals aide-de-camp, Capt. Kevin Cronin, mentioned the opportunity that he saw his hopes realized.
He asked if I wanted to go to Airborne School and then Ranger School, and I said, Hooah, sir, yes, sir. I just want to do it to be part of who I am, Castro said. Its not to prove anything to anybody just me. I set that goal. I know I can do it. My motivation is always drive on, drive on. Thats my way of thinking. And I think all the guys that are here did the same thing.
Castro joined the ranks of paratroopers alongside more than 370 graduates of A Company, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He said it was great to be Airborne.
I was nervous not scared, but nervous, he said, remembering his first jump. But you do your job. You trust your equipment and you trust what the instructors have taught you and you trust that youre going to do the right thing at the right time. The first 10 seconds are amazing and the last 10 seconds are a rush but a bumpy rush. Once the canopy pops, youre floating in air. Its euphoric.
Now the NCO has five jumps under his belt. He said it was awesome to finally achieve his goal.
Now Ive got the mindset, he said. This was kind of like a stepping stone to get into the mode of training. Now I have a foundation for the grueling parts of Ranger School.
Castro is scheduled to attend Ranger School in April.