By Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich, 15th Wing Public Affairs
The worst-case scenario has the potential of becoming an overwhelming reality for flight crews that fly in the Pacific area of responsibility. Airmen at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam participated in combat survival training March 26.
This training simulates the aircrew going down in a hostile environment. During the training, Airmen are required to demonstrate their ability to conceal their location, evade opposition forces, and practice proper recovery procedures.
Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Ray and Tech. Sgt. Michael Garcia are survival, evade, resist and escape (SERE) specialists for the 15th Operational Support Squadron. Their job is to ensure that all flight crews assigned to the 15th Wing are prepared to handle emergency situations by conducting refresher SERE training.
However, with Garcia on deployment, it is up to Ray to complete the SERE training for the 15th Wing.
According to Ray, training is conducted 12 months a year, including six unit-training assembly weekends for the National Guard and Reserve units. Every month he teaches the code of conduct training that includes, water survival, emergency parachute, conduct after capture, contingence SERE indoctrination, combat survival training, local area survival, and radio familiarization training.
Ray said that because of Hawaii’s geographic location and the Pacific Command’s area of responsibility, the water survival training is one of the more important types of training.
“No matter where the aircrews are flying, they are over water at some point,” said Ray. “If an aircraft were to go down in the ocean, it could be difficult for the recovery force to locate the crew.
“That is why it is important they know how to use their emergency equipment properly and know how to stay alive long enough for a personal recovery team to find them,” he said.
According to Ray, equally important is the combat survival training. This training simulates the aircrew going down in a hostile environment. The aircrew uses teamwork to conceal their location, evade opposition forces, and practice proper recovery procedures.
“[Combat survival training] is very beneficial,” said Maj. Dan Allen, a pilot evaluator for the 96th Air Refueling Squadron. “It gives us the opportunity to practice survival skills that we don’t use a lot, like using the equipment, how to navigate, conceal, evade and how to get rescued.”
All of the training provided by Ray is to ensure one thing. “We want to ensure all aircrew and high risk personnel are prepared to survive, evade, resist and escape in every scenario worldwide and return with honor,” said Ray.