After 16 weeks of action-packed exercises that will test them to the core, the recruits in Training Class No. 283 will pass into the elite ranks of the Secret Service -- or leave humiliated
By Laura Blumenfeld
Special Agent in Charge Michael Bryant talks about the Secret Service and the rigorous program would-be agents must complete at the James J. Rowley Training Center outside Washington, D.C.
Launch Photo Gallery
LESSON ONE: Get Ready To Die
The teacher walks into the mat room.
"Good morning, Mr. Mixon," the students say in unison.
"Cut that [expletive] out. Don't act like you give a crap about my morning."
Steve Mixon smiles, or maybe it's a snarl. Before he became an instructor at the Secret Service training camp outside Washington, Mixon served as a team leader on President George W. Bush's Counter Assault Team.
"Everyone's going to leave today in some degree of pain," Mixon tells the special agent trainees.
The 24 recruits, dressed in black combat pants and jackets, stiffen into four rows, jingling handcuffs. Scott Swantner clenches his jaw. Krista Bradford rubs raw knuckles. One trainee, who broke a rib, is keeping it a secret, fearing he'll be discharged.
"Everything is in play here, guys. Everything you learned from Day One," Mixon tells them in a basement that muffles rifle blasts. "Assailant control. Guillotine chokeholds."
For the members of Special Agent Training Class No. 283, this is finals time. They have been cramming here for months, since days after the election of Barack Obama, hoping to join the men and women charged with protecting the president.
Not all of them will make it. Read More