JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --
Less than one percent of the Air Force can call themselves Tactical Air Control Party Airmen.
Deciding to become a TACP Airman while approaching 40 makes Senior Airman Noah Dyer even rarer.
Dyer first considered joining the military in 2003, but ultimately decided against it over concerns of being separated from his young family.
Since then, Dyer earned an MBA, led a career as an advertising consultant, and was a video game programming professor, but it wasn’t until he ran for public office that he thought of the military again.
“I met a ton of veterans,” said Dyer about his 2017 political campaign. “I was truly impressed by their courage and I began to feel regret that I hadn’t served.”
Like many Air Force recruits, the path to joining wasn’t easy. In addition to obtaining a waiver for his age, he needed to shed 30 pounds, and, most importantly, win the approval of his four children.
“I brought it up with them one evening fully expecting them to shoot it down hard,” said the father whose children range from 13 to 18 years old. “I spoke to them individually and as a group and they all understood what I was saying and they were so supportive.”
With the support of his children, Dyer had a few months to be able to pass the Physical Ability Stamina Test to meet the minimum entrance standards for Air Force Special Warfare.
“In the beginning I could only do two pull-ups and you need to do eight in combination with other exercises,” he said.
Standards for the PAST include eight pull-ups, 50 sit-ups, 40 push-ups, a mile-and-a-half run in less than 10:20 minutes, two 25-meter underwater swims, and a 500-meter swim in less than 12:30 minutes.
With the PAST in his past, his next hurdle was basic military training.
“At 40, as many advantages as you have, you also picked up bad habits along the way that you need to get rid of,” said the Phoenix, Arizona, native. “I was both excited to learn new things and get rid of things I needed to unlearn.”
Now, Dyer serves with the 25th Air Support Operations Squadron at Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii, where he continues to learn more about the military and uses his prior experiences to assist when needed.
“I came in with the full expectation that I would not be treated any differently,” he said. “And fully expecting that I would have to earn my way.
“I recommend anyone who thinks they have the ability to do it. It’s so satisfying and I have no regrets.”
Although there’s a temptation to say that as a TACP Airman that he’s made it, Dyer states this is very much the beginning.
“I take pride in my work and I’m grateful for the people I’ve encountered,” he said. “If I like it as much as I have been, I’ll stay in for 20 years.”