News: SERE Instructors Conduct Water-Survival Training Evaluation
Story by Staff Sgt. Chad Thompson
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Survival, evasion, resistance and escape -- words synonymous for highly specified military training. Training that could one day save someone's life in a hostile environment or vicarious situation, and it's the SERE specialists here that provide this training.
One class offered here, unique to other bases, is a water-survival refresher course.
According to Staff Sgt. Emanuel Espino-Mata, a SERE specialist, water-survival training is offered every three years or less, and is for those who work and train over large bodies of water.
"This training is a refresher course for most pilots, and it's used to make sure they still remember the things they learned in their initial pilot training," Espino-Mata said.
He said SERE instructors make it as realistic as possible by teaching situations someone might encounter in a water landing or by providing training for pilots who might have to eject over the ocean.
From being pulled uncontrollably by a parachute through the water to using the correct method of getting out from under a submerged chute to getting in a life raft quickly and safely. The instructors run through a survival checklist that they hope to instill in a pilot's memory, Espino-Mata said.
"Training as we fight" is a motto many Airmen have heard and by using items pilots have in their personal survival kits and realistic scenarios it ensures the pilots are capable of remembering the different steps they would need to survive while in the water.
"Water survival is extremely important...and refreshing this training every three years helps keep those skills sharp because there are small things that can be forgotten," Sergeant Espino-Mata said.
He said getting out of the water and into a life raft quickly is one of the most important parts of surviving in the ocean.
"The longer you stay in the elements the chances of your survival start to dwindle," Espino-Mata said. "And it's simply because you are exposed to the cold water."
Something as simple as swimming becomes almost impossible, he said. Then add in hypothermia, trying to follow a checklist and fighting to stay alive, which is a recipe for disaster without the proper training.
Capt. Kyle Crosby, a pilot with the 36th Fighter Squadron, was the lucky recipient of the refresher course during an operational readiness exercise held here March 14 to 17, and he said he was glad he got it.
"I feel good that I went through some refresher training because it is amazing how much you forget in a couple of years from the initial training," Crosby said. "It's really important to get the refresher training because you never know when something bad will happen and you have to eject the aircraft and end up in the ocean."
Being ready to "fight and win tonight" is something these SERE instructors are ensuring across the base.