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Airmen enhance survival skills with SERE training

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Brandon Kalloo Sanes
  • 920th Rescue Wing

PATRICK SPACE FORCE BASE, FLORIDA – 920th Rescue Wing Aircrew participated in Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training near Patrick Space Force Base on Nov. 7.

Life support technicians and SERE experts put the Airmen through a rigorous training scenario testing their survival skills late into the evening across several miles of thick Florida woodland.    

Following classroom instruction, they were taken to a beach location to put their knowledge to the test. Instructors had the aircrew inflate life preservers in the Atlantic, ensuring each member was soaked just like they would be after a real emergency landing at sea.

 Properly drenched, the group broke out into three teams with a different set of coordinates where 920th RQW HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crews would extract them later that night. They didn’t have long to plan their journey because instructors, playing the role of enemy combatants, would begin pursuing them at any moment.

“We try to make these training opportunities as realistic as possible,” said an Aircrew Flight Equipment Specialist with the 920th Operations Support Squadron. “Challenging our personnel helps ensure they are properly equipped and trained to overcome any obstacle that could come their way.”

Using concealment and land navigation techniques, the Airmen weaved their way through sharp brush and uneven terrain hoping to find their extraction points before midnight.They had to remain vigilant and quiet with coastal winds, wet gear and enemy actors in pursuit. Additionally, they had to be  on the lookout for potentially dangerous wildlife such as alligators, snakes and wild boar.

In the end, all three teams successfully avoided detection and found their intended extraction points. The exercise doubled as training for the 301st Rescue Squadron who worked to locate the survivors with only a general idea of where the teams were expected to end up. Their helicopters could be heard probing for the survivors along the coastline under the cover of darkness. 

Rescue teams hoisted each survivor to safety and returned to base marking the end of their training. According to the wing commander, the unit hopes to continue hands-on exercises like these to strengthen its warfighting capabilities.

The 920th RQW is the only wing in the Air Force Reserve Command that trains and equips its Airmen who carry out its mission, to search for, locate and recover U.S. Armed Forces personnel during military operations. Air Force rescue is the only DoD entity specifically organized, trained and equipped to conduct personnel recovery operations into hostile or denied areas as a primary mission.

The 920th RQW is comprised of 23 subordinate groups and squadrons, including three geographically separated units; one at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, one at Portland, Oregon, and one at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.

“These Things We Do, That Others May Live”