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SERE training prepares aircrew for the worst

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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