Air Force survival instructor shows Marines the ropes

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Val Gempis
  • Air Force Print News
Huddled with a group of shivering students on a recent cold morning, an Air Force survival instructor from the 374th Operations Support Squadron at Yokota Air Base, Japan, demonstrates the proper way to rappel from a 70-foot tower. The group watches carefully as he attaches a rope to his harness and safely plunges toward the ground.

Staff Sgt. David Jewell, one of only two Air Force survival, evasion, resistance and escape instructors on mainland Japan, teaches combat survival, water survival and evasion techniques to hundreds of aircrew members and other Department of Defense people here.

He said training with sister-service troops is especially great.

"It's incredible to have the opportunity to get different perspectives on the same type of training from professionals from our sister services," Jewell said.

Most recently, he has been training with U.S. Marines. At the beginning, some Marines expressed reservations about having an airman teach them combat skills.

"We were expecting an Army guy," said Lance Cpl. Michael Richter, a member of the Headquarters Battalion, Range Control here.

But he said Jewell quickly impressed them with his professionalism and teaching skills.

"He's very experienced and can easily relate to his students," Richter said. "He definitely knows his stuff."

Jewell said communication is the key. Although the airman and the Marines have one common goal, their terminology might be different. Standardization of equipment and safety items is very important.

"We keep it simple and safe," he said.

With the majestic Mount Fuji in the background, the group honed their skills descending from the 70-foot tower. They familiarized themselves with how to correctly use ropes, harnesses, figure eight devices, helmets and gloves. In the afternoon, they took turns rappelling from a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter.