For more than two months, Ranger students train to exhaustion, pushing the limits of their bodies, minds, and souls and on average, only one in three candidates makes it through the grueling course. The average student is in the rank of E4 through E6 on the enlisted side and O1 through 03 for the officers. Most are between 19 and 27 years old. Only about 21 Airmen a year graduate from Ranger School.

Then there’s candidates like 39-year-old Chief Master Sgt. William “Ryan” Speck, the first Air Force Chief ever to graduate from Ranger School.

“I always had aspirations of attending Ranger School, back when I was a much younger Security Forces member in the mid-90s, however the opportunity never presented itself, that is, until about six months ago when I got the go-ahead to attend, ” Speck said. “At the age of 39, the desire was still strong, but at this stage of my career it wasn’t just for the thrill-seeking part that comes with the training, it was more to gain a better understanding of the Ranger mission set.”

The Dayton, Texas, native is currently serving as the U.S. Special Operations Command’s J6 Operations Superintendent where he supports the Rangers on a daily basis with their communications requirements.