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Home : News : State Partnership Program
NEWS | April 17, 2024

Determined Guam Guardsman Earns Blade Runner Award

By Mark Scott, Guam National Guard

BARRIGADA, Guam – Guam National Guard Capt. Greg May was on his last day at Maneuver Captain’s Career Course when a National Guard Bureau liaison spoke to the class. “If you’re in the National Guard and you’re here, you need to try for follow-on schools,” announced the liaison.

May looked online and saw Pathfinder School starting in two days. “I don’t know anything about Pathfinder but let me call the schoolhouse and see if they have openings,” recalled May, who still hadn’t graduated from his current course.

There were no openings, but he called and got himself on the waitlist. The next day, after his graduation ceremony, May drove across Fort Moore to the schoolhouse and found a spare bunk in the squad bay of an ongoing Air Assault class. After a night of rest, interrupted briefly by a 2 a.m. Air Assault wake-up, he showed up for “Day Zero” of Pathfinder School and was allowed to join. He was in.

U.S. Army Pathfinder School is a three-week course for students to navigate terrain, establish and operate day and night helicopter and airplane landing and drop zones, conduct sling-load operations, provide air traffic control and navigational assistance to airborne operations, and more. Certain classes in Pathfinder School involve lengthy mathematical equations and calculus. Others require a mastery of load-bearing physics and even close-combat tactics.

The highly technical course has an attrition rate of 50 to 60%.

According to May, many Pathfinder students are senior-ranking officials, some with months of preparation. Some were taking the course for their second or third try. 

“I might as well have fallen in through the roof, “May said. “I had no idea what I was in for.

“I failed every single phase,” May said. “I failed the entrance exam. I failed the Phase 1 and 2 exams, and of the six sections in Phase 3, I failed four of them. Even though I had an hour to study for my retests, the process made me question myself. Am I good enough to be here?”

Being on the edge of dropping out of the course but continually finding a way to survive earned him the unofficial title of class Blade Runner. As a Pathfinder graduate, it’s a title he wears as a badge of honor.

“In a way, I was prouder of that than if I had made the commandant’s list,” said May. “I just kept thinking, ‘I’m giving it my best and if I fail, I fail. But at least I can say I tried.’ And as a 40-year-old, I can set the example for my Soldiers of being resilient. If they keep grinding and keep pushing themselves, especially when no one is watching, over time the opportunities will come.”