LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
Since their earliest days, combat camera Airmen have bravely run toward the sound of bullets as they documented our nation's military activities through compelling still and motion imagery. Their images have provided a powerful operational tool that facilitates senior leader battlefield situational awareness and superior decision making.
Today's combat camera mission is no different.
Recognizing the inherent physical risks, Airmen assigned with the 3rd Combat Camera Squadron recently began an innovative martial arts training program to increase mission success and survivability in today's combat environment.
"While combat camera's primary mission is to visually document military operations, doing so routinely involves missions conducted outside the wire," said Maj. Tom Knowles, 3rd Combat Camera Squadron commander. "Should they come in direct contact with the enemy during these missions, personnel are trained to transition from shooting imagery to engaging the enemy using personal weapons at short range, or as a last resort, defending themselves in hand-to-hand combat."
Instructor Roy Eby is providing the necessary martial arts skills and expertise required of this specialized training. Since he began his martial arts studies in 1972, Mr. Eby has earned an impressive list of credentials including black belts in Judo, Jiu-Jitsu and Tae Kwon Do and Philippine martial arts of Kali, Escrima and Arnis. His professional credentials also include instructor certification in Jiu-Jitsu, Jun Fan Jeet Kune Do, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and USA Boxing, with clients ranging from the Federal Bureau of Investigation to Navy Seals.
While Mr. Eby has taught a variety of martial arts techniques throughout the squadron's weekly training sessions, recent emphasis has been placed upon Kodokan Judo. Founded in 1882 by Dr. Jigoro Kano, Judo is a modern Japanese martial art and combat sport.
"Judo is classified as a defensive martial art, derived from the ancient art of Jujutsu," said Mr. Eby. "Practitioners use throws, pins, choking, joint-locking and ground submission techniques to defeat an opponent."
As a student's overall knowledge and technical abilities increase, they're traditionally promoted in rank, identified by colored belts, and 10 degrees of advanced grades for black belts. During a recent ceremony, Mr. Eby recognized the squadron's first Airmen to have completed all training requirements necessary to achieve full rank promotions to yellow belt, the second belt-level in Judo. Among those achieving the milestone were Master Sgt. Eric Kerr and Tech. Sgt. Robert Velez.
During the ceremony the commander praised Mr. Eby's efforts providing the squadron with valuable warfighter skills necessary to achieve overall battlefield success.
"Every commander has a solemn duty to ensure assigned Airmen are properly trained and prepared to execute the mission," Major Knowles said. "By volunteering his time and expertise to train our Airmen, Mr. Eby has been integral to our efforts in building a battle-ready combat camera capability."
(Courtesy of 3rd Combat Camera Squadron)