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Aircrews refresh skills on water survival tactics

  • Published
  • By Airman Isaac Olivera
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

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.”