MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- “Hey there, Army Ranger,” one Marine hails another with a grin.
This is an uncommon greeting among Marines, but one Sgt. Michael G. Lyborg of Marine Special Operations Advisor Group, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, hears a lot lately.
Lyborg, MSOAG’s chief instructor for the Individual Skills section of Standards and Training, recently graduated from the U.S. Army Ranger School at Fort Benning, Ga. as the honor graduate of his class.
An infantryman by trade, Lyborg has spent countless hours in training, attended many military schools and deployed to the sands of the Middle East three times before being assigned to MARSOC.
“I’ve been instructing since I’ve been with MSOAG,” said Lyborg, a native of Fairhope, Ala. “We revamped and rewrote the courses we teach to better support Special Operations Forces missions.”
Lyborg and the other MSOAG instructors train future MSOAG Marines and Sailors in a six-month course to prepare them to succeed at the core MARSOC task of Foreign Internal Defense missions. The students complete hundreds of hours of weapons, language and culture training and learn a variety of teaching techniques necessary to pass their skills on to militaries of friendly foreign nations.
Lyborg also teaches small unit tactics, infantry fundamentals, light-infantry tactics, counter-terrorism and close-quarters battle.
He was sent to Ranger school to better himself as a Marine and as an instructor.
“Lyborg has a tremendous amount of leadership ability,” explained Capt. Ted A. Bucierka, Lyborg’s officer-in-charge at the Individual Skills section of S&T. “We had high expectations for him when he left for Ranger school.”
Lyborg was excited at the chance to tackle the mental and physical challenges that awaited him at Ranger school.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” explained Lyborg, who has been in the Corps for more than five years. “But being a Marine, I knew it was nothing I couldn’t handle.”
Starting with approximately 300 other Ranger candidates, Lyborg was sent through a rigorous 62-day training program that tested his abilities as a Marine.
“I wanted to gain as much knowledge and training as I could,” said Lyborg, who was the only Marine in his class. “I went to do my best, just like any Marine would.”
According to Lyborg, much of the school’s focus was on leadership, a subject for which his experience as an instructor of special operations Marines and Sailors prepared him.
“He is very proficient and professional as an instructor,” explained Bucierka. “We knew he could handle anything they put him through.”
According to the official Army Ranger School website,https://www.infantry.army.mil/rtb/, the Army Ranger School mission is to “Conduct Ranger and reconnaissance and surveillance leader courses to further develop the combat arms related functional skills of officer and enlisted volunteers who are eligible for assignment to units whose primary mission is to engage in the close combat, direct fire battle.”
During the course, Lyborg went through various training, ranging from airborne, air assault, mountain warfare, troop-leading procedures and a large amount of ground movement. Lyborg and the other students carried loads of up to 80 to 100 lbs. during training.
According to the Ranger website, the Ranger course consists of three phases. The first phase is conducted at Fort Benning, Ga., for 20 days; the second in the mountains of North Georgia for 21 days; and the third and final phase is conducted at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida for 18 days.
“The hardest part I personally had to deal with was the ground movement and sleep deprivation. That, and you never know how good you are doing,” said Lyborg. “After each phase, you might get dropped from the course or you might stay, you never know.”
As Lyborg’s class graduation date grew near, less than half of the 300 candidates who began the course remained. A few days before graduating, Lyborg was told he would be the honor graduate of his class. Lyborg said he was surprised to hear the news and believes Army Ranger school is what you make of it.
“You get out what you put into it,” he explained. “If you put in a lot of hard work and dedication, you can walk away as a stronger, well-rounded Marine.”
“This training was great for him,” explained Bucierka. “He has become even more proficient and it has made him a better instructor. We are glad to have Sgt. Lyborg here.”
“I brought a lot of knowledge back that I can share with students, as well as other instructors,” explained Lyborg. “I was glad to have gone and represented MARSOC.”
When Army soldiers graduate from Ranger school, they gain the prestigious title of “Ranger”, but Lyborg, who says he is proud to have graduated Ranger school with such high-honors, still prefers others refer to him simply as “Marine”.