SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – As part of a school project, a young man put a message about who he wanted to be one day in a bottle for his older self; a promise to one day become a police officer and help the world any way he could.
His path would eventually lead Senior Airman Vincent Kidd to become the 2,573rd graduate of one of the Air Force's toughest programs.
Growing up in Prince Georges County, Maryland, Kidd said he has always known he wanted to be in law enforcement.
“Ever since I was young, I really liked the idea of helping people,” said Kidd. “When I was about 6 or 7, a driver hit my mom on the highway, and we went into a ditch. I remember the first responder was a cop that saw the accident. He came down to help us out of the car and waited with us until an ambulance arrived. That gave me a lot of respect for police officers.”
Instead of waiting for his requisite 21st birthday to try out for his local police academy, 20-year-old Kidd decided the military would be a great way to lead him toward his goal.
“I didn’t want to sit around and waste time or end up with the wrong crowd doing things that wouldn’t further my future,” said Kidd. “I thought joining the military would be the best way to gather experience while also serve my country and help others.”
When he walked into his recruiter’s office, a map covered in pushpins caught his eye instantly. After inquiring about the map and pins, the recruiter revealed the pins represented each of the locations he had been to as a Phoenix Raven.
The concept of the Phoenix Raven program is a Security Forces training that is designed to train Airmen to perform in two to four man teams, to deploy as aircrew members to detect, deter and counter threats to Air Mobility Command aircraft transiting areas where security is unknown or additional security is needed.
“I was shocked,” said Kidd. He told me all about the program and training. I remember feeling excited, but conflicted, because I wanted to join the Air Force as a police officer. I told him how I was feeling and he laughed. He told me the only way to reach the Phoenix Raven program is through security forces. I knew then I had a new goal and I was going to reach it.”
After arriving at the 375th SFS here in 2016, Kidd’s excitement grew as the days counted down for his departure for the program.
“Before I left I remember I was never ‘nervous’, just always anxious,” said Kidd. “I was just ready to start the challenge that so many people told me was next to impossible.”
The training, conducted by the 421st Ground Combat Readiness Squadron at the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., took Kidd through an exhaustive three-week, 12-hour days, of physical and mental challenges covering a variety of subjects including cross-cultural awareness, legal considerations, airfield survey techniques, unarmed self-defense techniques (armament systems and procedures baton tactics) and even explosive ordnance disposal.
“It was everything I thought it would be and more,” said Kidd. “During the course I realized something important, it was absolutely difficult, but not at all impossible. It taught me that if I wanted something, I was going to have to work hard for it. I’ve always looked forward to moments like that— seeing it as an opportunity instead of an obstacle. ‘Difficult’ was an understatement. However, not once did I think to myself, ‘I can’t do this.’ I loved every moment of the course and appreciated everything it taught me.”
Part of being a Phoenix Raven means getting to see what the Air Force does around the globe. Getting to see over 20 countries as part of this mission is what Kidd said widened his perspective.
“It’s been very easy to see the big picture,” said Kidd. “Whether it’s a mission delivering humanitarian aid, protecting resources to set up a forward operating base, guarding distinguished visitors, our missions go everywhere. It’s been amazing to learn about the influences we have around the world.”
At Scott, Kidd oversees the confinement section at the 375th SFS. His duties include attending courts-martial, in-processing inmates, taking them to appointments and ensuring their sentenced time is impartial. He is also one of his units Physical Training leaders, ensuring every member maintains the Air Force fitness standards.
While his duties keep him busy during the day, being one of the select few to call themselves a Phoenix Raven is what keeps him coming back to the office every morning.
“I’ve really come to appreciate the sense of accomplishment, pride, and esteem the program offers members,” said Kidd. “The course is not for everyone and that’s for good reason. We are sometimes tasked to do difficult things in less than desirable locations, and that’s what we train for. To have graduated as the 2573rd member since the programs start in 1997; is a true honor and privilege.”