War or the Cage
By Senior Airman Sean Campbell, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 16, 2017
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- The day’s pent-up energy reaches a climax, his lime green “autistic kids rock!” t-shirt stands out in the bustling room, a clear sign that Tyler McGuire has entered the cage. Standing across from him is his opponent whose goal is to take him down.
The crowd buzzes with excitement as Staff Sgt. Tyler McGuire, 66th Training Squadron operations NCO in charge combat rescue officer course, mentally prepares for the task at hand. A feeling washes over him like no other.
“There is no greater feeling that I have experienced in any other sport,” said McGuire, a part-time mixed martial arts fighter who, in his free time, has been perfecting his craft and skills since 2009.
McGuire joined the Air Force in 2012 to be a survival instructor with the Air Force’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape school. He chased this dream because of his love of teaching. Prior to joining the military, McGuire worked as a public school teacher for autistic youth.
His passion and love for teaching these children is why he shows his support for them and their families by donning his lime-green t-shirt each time he enters the cage.
“There is nothing I love more than teaching. I loved every minute of being a school teacher, but the draw of the military kept pulling at me,” McGuire said. “I always wanted to serve, I just never knew how. Then I discovered I could be an instructor in the military. I read about all the opportunities I could experience as a SERE instructor and as soon as I finished the pamphlet, I knew.”
The SERE mission involves preparing Airmen to survive anywhere in the world, in any environment. This speaks volumes to the kind of person it takes to earn the SERE arch and beret. The SERE career field is diverse and has many facets that draw the interest of all types of people. The career field also allows you time to pursue your goals, both personally and professionally, McGuire said.
In his current role, McGuire works in the SERE combative program teaching aircrew personnel and working with other SERE instructors to re-write the combative course.
“We serve isolated personnel. We put our heart and soul into the training to ensure crews with the possibility of isolation are prepared for the worst,” McGuire said. “We don’t want our people engaging in fisticuffs. We want them to affect their own recovery and avoid that contact. The basic principles of fighting, regardless of your arena, whether it be war or a cage, are the same. You want to take care of yourself and inflict as much damage as possible to the enemy while taking as little damage to yourself as possible.”
McGuire started fighting after college. His wife’s cousin, mixed martial arts fighter Gabe Lemley, got him started in the world of MMA. McGuire trained for three months before winning his first amateur fight by submission in under a minute. He enjoyed the feeling of fighting in the cage and continued to fight in the amateur league until joining the Air Force in 2012, bringing his amateur league career to a halt with a 6-0 record.
“While being in the Air Force and competing in MMA, it matters how you carry yourself,” McGuire said. “When you look on TV, you see fighters talking smack and just trying to sell tickets. I don’t carry myself like that. I’m a member of the United States Air Force; I’m a father and I’m a husband. I’m going to carry myself in a way that reflects positively on the Air Force, my family and myself.”
McGuire took two years off from MMA when he joined the Air Force to focus on training. After settling here at Fairchild, he connected with Rick Little, owner and head coach of Sik Jitsu, and began to train again. Since then, McGuire continues to use his SERE specialist training and discipline to better himself as an MMA fighter while using the dedication he’s learned from MMA to better himself as a SERE instructor.
“The support I get from my 336th Training Group and 66th TRS leadership, Col. Groves and Lt. Col. Haynes, my wife, Cindy, and daughter, Kennedy, enables me to chase this dream and be successful at my job, too,” McGuire said.
After arriving at Fairchild and returning to MMA training, McGuire started to compete in the professional tier of MMA and currently holds a record of 9-0.
“We have a good team here and support a lot of fighters like Tyler,” said Michael “Maverick” Chiesa, training partner of McGuire and number 10 lightweight MMA fighter in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. “Tyler is an all-around great person and wants to be at the highest level he can be. He doesn’t fight for the money; he competes and succeeds because of his passion.”