CLEVELAND, Tenn. - What is it like to take the very first step to become a member of a U.S. Air Force special operations unit?
People got to answer that question for themselves Saturday at the Cleveland Family YMCA.
"This is the bare minimum," said Tech Sgt. David Overton. "This is just to get yourself into consideration."
The Cleveland YMCA, a part of the Chattanooga Metropolitan YMCA, already carries the designation as a preliminary test site for recruits seeking to enter training for one of the Air Force's special operations units.
Rodney Murray, Cleveland YMCA programs director, said Saturday's event just gives the public a better idea of what that means. The Y plans for the public test to become an annual event.
Participants raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.
Sebastian Davenport was not here for the public test, however. He was here to take the test for real before shipping out to Lackland Air Force Base as a trainee.
"I'm just working to get my time down," he said about the swimming, running and other events.
For Pearson DeVaul, Mike Berry, Bruce Novkov and Scott Raymer, Saturday was a chance to support a worthwhile cause and to see how they would match up.
"Also, I like the competition, trying to do things I've never done before," said Devaul.
"It is a great cause for great folks," said Novkov. "But it is just fun to work toward a goal or an event."
DeVaul is plant manager at Georgia Pacific. Berry owns Berry Construction and is president of the YMCA of Chattanooga corporate board.
"I have been reading 'Sole Survivor' and 'Seal Team Six,'" said Novkov, who owns Specialty Collision Center. "I was reading the training those guys went through to get to that level, and this came up."
The preliminary test is rarely available to the public, Air Force representatives said. They hope Saturday's event raises awareness of the Air Force's own Special Operations Command.
The command includes four specialties: combat control, pararescue, tactical air control specialists and special operations weather team.
The Air Force website describes them.
• The combat controller is "the tip of the spear. ... He is part air-traffic controller, often in remote, hostile places; precision free-fall parachutist, SCUBA diver, expert motorcycles and skilled in various military weaponry [and more]."
• Pararescue includes "extensive medical and physical training," the website says. "You'll be on call 24/7 and may be called on to infiltrate enemy lines" to rescue stranded service members.
• A tactical air control party, the website says, "is a very physically, mentally and technically demanding job" that includes advising ground forces on aircraft employment and capabilities, coordinating and controlling aerospace operations and participating in battle planning.
• The special operations weather team members collect on-scene data and offer mission-enhancing forecasts.
"We want to educate the public that we have these programs," said Tech Sgt. Adam Bergner.