African American Reservist realizes many dreams
/ Published February 12, 2018
In celebration of our wing heritage during African American History Month, meet Reserve Citizen Airman Lt. Col. (Dr.) Arnold T. Stocker who holds a Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree and is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. Stocker has more than 40 years serving in the U.S. military and was the first African American pararescueman to join the 920th Rescue Wing in 1995, serving in that capacity until 2003.
Stocker realized a dream when he graduated from the Pararescue Apprentice Course in the summer of 1997, a two-year training journey to become a combat trauma medic with highly specialized rescue skills - one of many jobs he trained for throughout his years of service.
Stocker's storied career started when he joined the Air Force in 1977 as a jet engine mechanic (1977-1980) and then cross trained to become an aeromedical evacuation technician from 1980-1986. It didn't take long; however, until the Airman soon felt his heartstrings tug him toward a more physically demanding lifestyle, so he tried out to be an Air Force pararescueman. When he didn't make it, he transferred to the U.S. Army Special Forces to serve as a medical sergeant, or an 18 Delta Green Beret and combat diver from 1986-1995.
After serving as a green beret, he boomeranged back to the Air Force and landed in the 920th RQW in 1995 when he was finally able to realize his dream of being an Air Force pararescueman after graduating two years later from the famous "superman" school, or as it's formally known, Pararescue Training, in 1997 and became the wing's first African American pararecueman until 2003.
Soon thereafter, Stocker was again in pursuit of a higher medical calling and transferred to the nurse corps in 2003 where he currently serves with the 920th Aeromedical Staging Squadron.
His favorite quote is, "If you can't hear, you must feel." He said it's an old Jamaican saying meaning you must listen, or you will get hurt or you will hurt someone else. He instills this mindset into his own kids, as well as his anesthesia students, and his military special forces and special operations trainees.
The doctor owns and operates South Florida Tactical Athletes, a business he started to help create "tathletes" due to the challenges in pursuing highly coveted physically demanding careers in the military. He uses his breadth of experience to train driven young men and women to pursue their dreams.