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    Soldiers improve underwater survival skills

    Soldiers improve underwater survival skills

    Photo By Spc. Donald Williams | Pfc. Ryan Gonzales, a crew chief with the Missouri National Guard Company C, 1st...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Donald Williams 

    129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    RAPID CITY, S.D. – Ten Soldiers learned the skills to survive and escape from submerged, crashed helicopters, June 17, 2014, in Rapid City, S.D.

    South Dakota National Guard Company D, 1st Battalion, 112th Aviation Security and Support Regiment Soldiers and the Missouri National Guard Company C, 1st Battalion, 106th Aviation Regiment attended helicopter over-water survival training, or “Dunker” training, as part of the 2014 Golden Coyote training exercise.

    “A lot of folks believe that we don’t do over-water missions here in South Dakota, because we’re not on a coastline, and quite frankly I disagree,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Christian L. Frank, a standardized instructor pilot with the 112th. “As of today, we’re looking at possibly seeing flooding on the eastern side of South Dakota and needing South Dakota Guardsmen and women to respond, and this training right here helps ensure the readiness of our air crew to respond in that kind of situation.”

    The training started in a classroom, where Soldiers learned the basics of underwater survival equipment before they moved to the indoor pool at Rapid City’s Roosevelt Swim Center to get hands-on experience.

    That experience included learning how to use an Emergency Breathing Device while in full gear, as well as practicing different brace positions while being rolled over in Shallow Water Egress Chairs, which were chairs mounted inside rollover cages.

    Soldiers also hung upside-down in the water to practice clearing water out of the EBDs, and how to slowly ascend out of the water to avoid injury due to changes in water pressure.

    They also trained with blackout goggles (duct taped to shut out the light) to simulate crashes at night and in deep water.

    All of the equipment and training was intended to keep them alive in the event of a crash over water.

    “This training is extremely important,” said Capt. Wesley Tuley, commander of the 106th. If and when the time comes that you ever need the training, to have the skill set to stay alive or at least mitigate your chance of becoming a fatality.”

    The Dunker training became a military requirement after seven Marines were killed in a CH-46D helicopter crash off the coast of California, Dec. 9, 1999.

    The Army now requires that aviation Soldiers renew the training every five years, Tuley said.

    The training was part of the 106th’s annual two-week training, which they are conducting in the Black Hills for Golden Coyote alongside Guard members, Reservists and active duty service members from 15 different states and four foreign nations.

    “It’s important for the National Guard to include it, because we’re still one of the main fighting forces out there conducting missions, especially over-water missions,” Tuley said.



    Date Taken: 06.17.2014
    Date Posted: 06.20.2014 18:39
    Story ID: 133896
    Location: RAPID CITY, SD, US 

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