Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst


Aircrew Airmen train for the worst possible scenario

By Senior Airman Joshua King | Joint Base MDL Public Affairs | June 27, 2017


The average Airman completes a variety of training throughout the year to stay proficient in their respective career fields, but aircrew members must go through unique training, like water survival.

Survival, evasion, resistance and escape, or SERE specialists, gave water survival refresher training with the help of the U.S. Coast Guard to ensure aircrew members are up to date on their qualifications.

“This training is required every 36 months,” said Staff Sgt. Jared Todd, 305th Operational Support Squadron SERE specialist. “The refresher training is important for the students to remember everything they learned in the initial course.”

The day began with the students receiving classroom instruction before heading to the ocean for a hands-on portion.

“Depending on the weather and temperature of the water, we have the students wear flight suits, anti-exposure suits and the life preserving units they would have on their jet,” Todd said. “When they’re suited up, we take them out to the raft and test their skills of survival on the open ocean.”

When the students get to the raft, they demonstrate swimming techniques and then get in the raft with an instructor to continue with the lesson.

“We got onto the raft and practiced some of our emergency items to take care of each other,” said Capt. Shane Malkin, 2nd Air Refueling Squadron pilot. “We prepared some drinkable water for ourselves, fixed the raft and started to prepare to get picked up.”

When the Airmen finished their objectives, they waited for an Atlantic City, New Jersey Coast Guard helicopter to assist with the training. The students were dragged near the rescue basket on the back of a jet ski and swam the rest of the way.

“The hardest part of the training was swimming through the rotor wash to get in the basket,” Malkin said. “But riding up in the basket and getting some licorice that they were handing out was the best part.”

When the students were securely in the basket, the helicopter lifted them one by one from the water to the helicopter and back down to complete the day of training for the aircrew and a few training objectives of their own.

“This is great training for our aircrew and for the Atlantic City Coast Guard,” said Todd. “Being able to build the joint warfighter is an important part of our Joint Base MDL mission.”