KEY WEST, Fla. --
Reserve Citizen Airmen with the 302nd Airlift Wing's 731st Operations Group and 34th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron spent three days practicing Survival Evasion and Resistance Escape skills in Key West, Florida, May 21-23.
As part of their initial training when they first become aircrew they go through a 19-day SERE training course. Every three years aircrew take a refresher version to keep those skills sharp.
“These skills are perishable,” said Tech. Sgt. Tony Fancher, a 302nd Airlift Wing SERE instructor. “If they don't do this on an interval basis, they'll lose it. There is no better way to retrain these skills than by actually practicing.”
The three-day training consists of academics and water and urban survival training where aircrew are reminded of how to escape from the enemy, communicate a rescue and execute a recovery back to U.S. Territory and build resilience.
“From an aircrew perspective it reminds of the immediate and long-term actions we need to take if we are downed and end up in an unusual or austere environment,” said Maj. Jordan Kelsey, a 302nd AW pilot and mission commander for the training. “We need to be able to assess whether or not can expect recovery -- do we need to move or hold up? These are the kinds of things SERE training knocks us into our heads.”
Fancher emphasizes the training using real-world stories to drive home his points.
“We are lucky to have a subject matter experts like Sgt. Fancher,” said Kelsey. “This is a really condensed version of our initial training, but the examples he uses are effective because they are relatable to our own experiences.”
Kelsey says having the training away from their home station, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, adds significant value to its effectiveness and opportunities to improve readiness.
“Getting away from our backyard helps prevent complacency in this training -- especially with the urban survival aspect,” he said. “The other big piece is the opportunity for cross-functional collaboration. Normally, we only see aeromedical crew briefly before a flight.
“Last time, we were able to have services, intelligence and air crew flight equipment personnel out here. Each career field was able to train the respective skill sets alongside us. We were able to work side-by-side with these agencies that we don’t see on a routine basis. It reminds us that each Airman has a role to play to complete the mission.”