AN IT consultant from Henley has become a Royal Marines reservist.
Alexander Shepherd, 25, earned the Green Beret after completing four Commando tests over four days.
These included an endurance course made up of a series of tunnels, a nine-mile speed march, the Tarzan high wire course and an assault course — all while carrying about 32lb of weight.
For the final challenge, he had to complete a 30-mile speed march across Dartmoor in eight hours with 50lb on his back.
Mr Shepherd, who trained for 16 months for the challenge, was one of 29 out of 49 men who passed.
He said: “You had 13 minutes to complete the Tarzan wire and 73 minutes to complete the endurance course.Some people were just not up to scratch, for example not finishing a test in a certain time. Others just gave up and there were also injuries.
“It is ridiculously challenging — one man had a broken foot, one had a fractured ankle and another broke a toe.
“People often break their hands when they climb over obstacles and misjudge them.”
Mr Shepherd is stationed at the Royal Marines Reserves base in Friday Street, Henley.
He said: “We train on a Tuesday from 7.30pm and once a month we spend a couple of days in field doing exercises, including things like weapons training, mountain training and close- quarters combat.
“Every six months we have a two-week package where we train with the regulars and see if we are up to scratch because that is what it’s all about, being of the same standard.
“At times it is a challenge. It is hard when your mates are going to the pub on a Friday night and you have to pack for going away.
“But when you come to doing the tests you are so well prepared and focused you think that there is nothing to stop you.”
Mr Shepherd went to the European School in Culham and then the University of Kent, where he graduated with a degree in politics and international relations.
He previously worked as a chef and pub manager but wanted to join the Royal Marines to “do something different”.
Mr Shepherd said: “I like the flexibility of being a reserve as you can have a relatively normal life. There are only about 600 of us in the UK so we are part of quite an exclusive club.”
Before he can be deployed with a front line Commando unit, he has to complete some more training to gain advanced Commando skills, including urban combat and live firing battle drills with a regular Marines recruit troop.
Mr Shepherd said: “I think 99 per cent of us would say they would go and serve their time on a deployment. If I was offered the opportunity I would go in a heartbeat.
“My goal now is to take a more active role in the corps and to get on as much training as I can with a view to getting a tour with a regular unit.”