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SERE training prepares aircrew for the worst

Capt. Matt Savage and Senior Airman Kenneth Stricker wait for two team members to return during combat survival training March 26, 2015, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. This training simulates the aircrew going down in a hostile environment. The aircrew uses teamwork to conceal their location, evade opposition forces and practice proper recovery procedures. Savage is a pilot and Strickler is a boom operator for the 96th Air Refueling Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich

Capt. Matt Savage and Senior Airman Kenneth Stricker wait for two team members to return during combat survival training March 26, 2015, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. This training simulates the aircrew going down in a hostile environment. The aircrew uses teamwork to conceal their location, evade opposition forces and practice proper recovery procedures. Savage is a pilot and Strickler is a boom operator for the 96th Air Refueling Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich

Senior Airman Kenneth Stricker runs from cover during combat survival training March 26, 2015, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. This training simulates the aircrew going down in a hostile environment. The aircrew uses teamwork to conceal their location, evade opposition forces and practice proper recovery procedures. Stricker is a boom operator for the 96th Air Refueling Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich)

Senior Airman Kenneth Stricker runs from cover during combat survival training March 26, 2015, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. This training simulates the aircrew going down in a hostile environment. The aircrew uses teamwork to conceal their location, evade opposition forces and practice proper recovery procedures. Stricker is a boom operator for the 96th Air Refueling Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich)

Maj. Dan Allen takes cover in the brush during combat survival training March 26, 2015, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. Allen, who is a pilot evaluator for the 96th Air Refueling Squadron, led a team of four during four hours of training that is designed to simulate the aircrew going down in a hostile environment. The aircrew uses teamwork to conceal their location, evade opposition forces and practice proper recovery procedures. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich)

Maj. Dan Allen takes cover in the brush during combat survival training March 26, 2015, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. Allen, who is a pilot evaluator for the 96th Air Refueling Squadron, led a team of four during four hours of training that is designed to simulate the aircrew going down in a hostile environment. The aircrew uses teamwork to conceal their location, evade opposition forces and practice proper recovery procedures. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich)

Airmen jump into Hickam Harbor to simulate exiting an aircraft that has landed in the ocean during water survival training March 23, 2015, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. Water survival training is completed on triennial basis for all aircrew assigned to the 15th Wing. The Airmen participating in the training were from the 535th Airlift Squadron, 65th Airlift Squadron and the 96th Air Refueling Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich)

Airmen jump into Hickam Harbor to simulate exiting an aircraft that has landed in the ocean during water survival training March 23, 2015, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. Water survival training is completed on triennial basis for all aircrew assigned to the 15th Wing. The Airmen participating in the training were from the 535th Airlift Squadron, 65th Airlift Squadron and the 96th Air Refueling Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich)

Lt. Col. David Hammer swims toward the dock at Hickam Harbor after egressing from a 46-person life raft during water survival training March 23, 2015, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The water survival training is a triennial requirement for all aircrew. Hammer is the director of operations for the 65th Airlift Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich)

Lt. Col. David Hammer swims toward the dock at Hickam Harbor after egressing from a 46-person life raft during water survival training March 23, 2015, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The water survival training is a triennial requirement for all aircrew. Hammer is the director of operations for the 65th Airlift Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich)

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (AFNS) -- The worst-case scenario has the potential of becoming an overwhelming reality for flight crews that fly in the Pacific area of responsibility (AOR).

Tech. Sgts. Jeffrey Ray and Michael Garcia, both are survival, evasion, resistance and escape (SERE) specialists with the 15th Operational Support Squadron, ensure all flight crews assigned to the 15th WG at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam are prepared to handle emergency situations by conducting refresher SERE training.

According to Ray, training is conducted 12 months a year, including six unit-training assembly weekends for the National Guard and Reserve units. Every month, he teaches the Code of Conduct training that includes water survival, emergency parachute, conduct after capture, contingence SERE indoctrination, combat survival, local area survival and radio familiarization training.

Because of Hawaii's geographic location and the U.S. Pacific Command's AOR, the water survival training is one of the more important types of training, Ray said.

"No matter where the aircrews are flying, they are over water at some point," he said. "If an aircraft were to go down in the ocean, it could be difficult for the recovery force to locate the crew. That is why it is important they know how to use their emergency equipment properly and know how to stay alive long enough for a personnel recovery team to find them."

Equally important is the combat survival training, he added. This training simulates the aircrew going down in a hostile environment. The aircrew uses teamwork to conceal their location, evade opposition forces and practice proper recovery procedures.

"(Combat survival training) is very beneficial," said Maj. Dan Allen, a pilot evaluator with the 96th Air Refueling Squadron. "It gives us the opportunity to practice survival skills we don't use a lot, like using the equipment, how to navigate, conceal, evade and how to get rescued."

All of the training Ray provides is to make sure of one thing.

"We want to ensure all aircrew and high-risk personnel are prepared to survive, evade, resist and escape in every scenario worldwide and return with honor," Ray said.

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