FORT POLK, LA, UNITED STATES
FORT POLK, La. – The Louisiana heat and humidity is a complaint many soldiers echo on hot summer days when wearing the Army combat uniform (ACU). As the summer season nears an end, soldiers take advantage of the water and learn new skills.
The uniform is designed to protect soldiers' extremities from sunburn, insects and, when used properly, it can aid in water floatation.
On Sept. 12, soldiers learned several ways to use the uniform for water survival.
The salty water splashed to life as soldiers in Headquarter and Headquarters Company, 88th Brigade Support Battalion (Hellraisers) jumped into the 50 meter pool on Swimming Pool Road to conduct drown proofing training, a water survival technique, Sept. 12 during Sergeants Time Training.
The water was a welcoming relief when soldiers jumped in from the poolside. The sun’s rays reflected off the water surrounding the Hellraiser Company. They then learned three different variations to aid in floatation with the Army combat uniform.
“I really enjoyed showing them how to use their uniform as a flotation device,” said Madison Guess, program manager of aquatics. “They learned plan A, plan B and plan C and then executing them (plan A, B, & C) with a scenario, to show that they works in water above the head.”
The mission was to identify strong swimmers, intermediate swimmers, weak swimmers and non-swimmers.
Spc. Mark Burris, unit supply for HHC, 88th BSB, was designated as a strong swimmer and helped encourage others during training.
“I don’t have any problems with water,” said Burris. “I learned how to use my ACUs as a floating device. It took me a couple tries to get it right but I got it down. The instructor and demonstrators were very good.”
Leaders in Hellraiser Company identified weak swimmers by having them reverse their ACU top. The weak swimmers were pared with strong swimmers during most of the training. The soldiers motivated each other and helped those that were apprehensive during the-3 meter dive part of the training.
“The most important part of the training was getting people to face their fears,” said Madison.
“Jumping off the diving board was a very, very hard challenge for me, because I can’t swim at all,” said Staff Sgt. Morgan Outlaw, Sustainment Automation Support Management Office NCOIC. “You have to lead from the front. I trusted and believed in my soldiers and the life guards.”
The dive portion of the training proved to be the hardest part for most soldiers, even some of the stronger swimmers. After they went off the diving board, soldiers cheered and smiled as their leaders and peers accomplished the task. The stronger divers and swimmers waited in the water or on the side for soldiers who needed extra encouragement during the dive.
“I wish more people participated in this type of training, said Spc Roberto Descalzi. “Now we have more confidence in our uniform.”
Training also included demonstrations and execution of different swimming strokes. The training also included treading water, floating, and moving silently thought a water environment.
Madison said he gathered all of his information from his prior service experience. He talks with the Navy, Coast Guard and Army.
“I compiled this program to try and make it outstanding for all soldiers here,” said Madison. “Anyone who asks can come do this training. We have an instructor here or, if they have someone to instruct, we give them recommendation. We will always support soldiers training with lifeguards. "
The training taught soldiers new practices to aid in water survival, accomplished the goal of identifying types of swimmers in the unit, and allowed the unit to work together as a team.
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This work, Army combat uniform aids soldiers during drown proofing training, by SFC Meillettis Patton, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.