News Search

Aircrews refresh skills on water survival tactics

Airman lighting flare

An airman activates a MK-124 signaling device during a water survival refresher course conducted by 375th Operations Support Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists at Carlyle Lake, Ill. Nov. 3, 2020. To reinforce what was taught during the refresher course students partook in exercises that demonstrated competency. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Isaac Olivera.)

Men on a shore line

U.S. Air Force members are briefed and provided learning goals prior to swimming out to a raft during a water survival refresher course conducted by 375th Operations Support Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists at Carlyle Lake, Ill. Nov. 3, 2020. SERE instructors provide hands-on training and create realistic exercises to strengthen the overall learning experience. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Isaac Olivera.)

Airmen getting into a boat

U.S. Air Force members climb onto a raft during a water survival refresher course conducted by 375th Operations Support Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists at Carlyle Lake, Ill. Nov. 3, 2020. Interactive training enlightens Scott’s aircrew on ocean survival, and increases the likelihood of downed airmen returning home. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Isaac Olivera.)

Airman doing SERE training

An airman takes off her helmet during a water survival refresher course conducted by 375th Operations Support Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists at Carlyle Lake, Ill. Nov. 3, 2020. SERE specialists provided a realistic training environment by creating artificial waves that aircrew had to combat when swimming to a raft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Isaac Olivera.)

Instructor teaching on a boat

A 375th Operations Support Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialist teaches aircrew about water survival techniques at Carlyle Lake, Ill. Nov. 3, 2020. SERE specialists provide information on where the basic resources to survive are located on the raft; which include tools such as a fishing rod, a prop up shelter and signaling devices. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Isaac Olivera.)

Man on jet ski

A cadre helping with a water survival refresher course conducted by 375th Operations Support Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists creates artificial waves with a jet ski at Carlyle Lake, Ill. Nov. 3, 2020. SERE instructors provide hands-on training and create realistic exercises to strengthen the overall learning experience. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Isaac Olivera.)

Person putting on water suit

An airman puts on a dry suit during a water survival refresher course taught by 375th Operations Support Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists at Carlyle Lake, Ill. Nov. 3, 2020. SERE specialists provided thermal clothing and dry suits to aircrew undergoing training to combat cold water temperatures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Isaac Olivera.)

Man on boat

A 375th Operations Support Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialist instructs aircrew how to potentially save their own lives during a water survival refresher course at Carlyle Lake, Ill. Nov. 3, 2020. SERE specialists provide hands-on training experiences, such as activating signals, getting onto a raft and operating rescue equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Isaac Olivera.)

Airman lighting flare

An airman activates a MK-124 signaling device during a water survival refresher course taught by 375th Operations Support Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists at Carlyle Lake, Ill. Nov. 3, 2020. After SERE specialists demonstrated how to use a MK-124 students were instructed to complete an exercise proving competence in what they were taught. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Isaac Olivera.)

Flare on fire
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 10 of 12

A 375th Operations Support Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialist demonstrates how to use a MK-124 signaling device during a water survival refresher course at Carlyle Lake, Ill. Nov. 3, 2020. To provide a hands-on learning environment SERE specialists let students activate the MK-124. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Isaac Olivera.)

Smoke and trees
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 11 of 12

Smoke from five MK-124 signaling devices drift through the forest after being activated by students of a water survival refresher course conducted by 375th Operations Support Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists at Carlyle Lake, Ill. Nov. 3, 2020. A MK-124 is a versatile signaling device that can be used at night, as well as the day to show where a downed airman is located. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Isaac Olivera.)

Airmen lighting flares
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 12 of 12

U.S. Air Force members activate MK-124 signaling devices during a water survival refresher course taught by 375th Operations Support Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists at Carlyle Lake, Ill. Nov. 3, 2020. A MK-124 is a versatile signaling device that can be used at night, as well as day to show where a downed airman is located. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Isaac Olivera.)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill -  Water survival is arguably the most challenging circumstance an aircrew may face in the event of a crash or an inflight emergency.

The deep, cold and unforgiving environment is merciless, so being prepared, equipped and trained can mean the difference between life and death.

That’s why the 375th Operations Support Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape office conducts a series of four courses monthly for Scott aircrews at Carlyle Lake, located about 30 minutes from the base.

Tech. Sgt. Samuel Neitzer, 375th OSS SERE specialist, explained that when challenged with adversity, gathering resources becomes paramount to survival. When adrift in the ocean, basic resources to survive include food shelter and drinkable water.

“Water survival is the most deadly situation that our aircrew might find themselves in,” said Neitzer. “Calm seas in the open ocean are still about 5 foot swells.”  

SERE specialists provide interactive, hands-on training to refresh the aircrews’ knowledge of activating signals, donning dry suits and operating rescue equipment.

“People retain information better if they hear it, see it and do it,” said Neitzer. “If you see a picture for training, you probably won’t remember it, but if you interact and run through it you probably will.”

This training is critical in keeping Scott’s aircrew up-to-date on ocean survival techniques, and increases the likelihood of downed Airmen returning home, a service which is happily provided by 375th OSS SERE specialists.

“I think what we do is pretty cool,” said Neitzer. “I enjoy the opportunity to go out and give somebody else these skills to survive.”