Preparing Airmen to Return With Honor

BRANDON, SFK, UNITED KINGDOM 04.06.2018 Story by Airman 1st Class Elijah Chevalier  48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs  ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England – The last thing a pilot or aircrew member needs to be thinking about in the air is how they are going to survive on the ground if the worst was to happen. Survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists ensure aircrew members have the peace of mind of knowing they are fully capable of enduring harsh conditions on their own while utilizing survival techniques to increase their probability of a safe and successful recovery in any environment. “Our moto in SERE is to ‘Return With Honor,’” said a SERE specialist from the 57th Rescue Squadron. “Aircrew survival school was first introduced in 1940s and from that, [prisoners of war] were able to look at themselves in the mirror and know that they survived with honor.” While most Airmen are trained to perform a tasks related to their career field, SERE specialists are trained to not only perform, but teach SERE related concepts. This includes water survival training, parachute training, severe environment training and anything else deemed necessary. “We are the subject matter experts when it comes to an aircrews’ training,” said the 57th RQS SERE specialist. “We understand the physical psychological stressors that aircrews go through when they find themselves in a survival situation, the task saturation, and what the environment is doing to their faculties, both physically and mentally.” This intimate knowledge of what it’s like being alone and pursued allows SERE specialists to provide unique insight on the state of mind of individuals in need of rescue. This information is used by rescue teams comprised of pararescuemen and combat rescue officers to facilitate a smooth recovery. “I take a lot of pride in my job,” said a SERE specialist assigned to the 48th Operations Support Squadron. “I love doing SERE. We have to try and knock the training out of the park each time, so we give them the skills they need to survive.” In the past 15 years, SERE specialists have provided lifesaving training to over 200,000 personnel from across all branches of the military, so operators and aircrew have the knowledge and confidence to stay focused on the mission while in the air, in the water or anywhere else they may find themselves around the globe.   For more stories like this on Specialtactics.com, click HERE

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PJs team up with Army Chinooks

Members of the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron explain the importance of the U.S. Army CH-47F Chinook to the mission at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan during March, 2018. Airmen flying missions every day or coalition forces going outside the wire on patrols, can fight a little harder and rest a little easier knowing there is a group of highly trained and motivated pararescuemen willing to put their lives on the line to save them. For the first time in Afghanistan, these pararescuemen of the 83rd ERQS do this working hand-in-hand with the U.S. Army CH-47 Chinooks.   For more vids like these on Specialtactics.com, visit HERE.

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AFRL enhances survival tools for isolated Airmen

(EDITORS NOTE: Stop for a second, look & read the picture w/ caption.  That is HILARIOUS.) WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, OH, UNITED STATES 04.13.2018 Story by Donna Lindner  Air Force Research Laboratory – Survival — it’s the first thing an ejected pilot contemplates once safely on the ground. A survival situation could span days and the Air Force is taking advantage of advancements in technology to allow ejected pilots to survive for longer periods of time. Researchers from the Junior Force Warfighters Operations in the Air Force Research Laboratory Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, are increasing a pilot’s capability to survive, escape and evade through near-term, short-turnaround projects. “We are developing materials that will last longer in operational environments so that isolated personnel have the equipment readily available,” said Capt. Jason Goins, JFWORX team member. A subteam of JFWORX, the Ejection Seat Survival Kit Enhancement, Modernization and Optimization team, are working to improve the current ejection seat survival kit for the Air Force. The kit contains over 50 items, broken down into subprojects, with the first project being the survival knife for improved survive, escape, resist, and evade operations. JFWORX is evaluating different types of steels, varying edge grinds and blade shapes for the new knife. The team performed field tests with various commercially available knives. The blades are tested to see how quickly they dull with an edge retention test. A knife made of harder steel will hold an edge well, but is difficult to sharpen and is likewise brittle. Based on the initial JFWORX technical evaluation, the team selected 60 knives for end user testing by the 22nd Training Squadron and 336th Training Group at Fairchild AFB, Washington. A concurrence on the best knife will be determined and then recommended to the Air Force for inclusion in the survival kit. The 336th Training Group is the Air Force’s sole unit responsible for SERE specialists and train more than 6,000 students from Fairchild AFB, alone. “SERE specialists are trained to survive anywhere in the world and are the best trained personnel recovery subject matters experts,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Torres of the 22TRS and 336TRG. “The foundation of everything we do is the ability to relate information that is known or discovered to provide the best possible life-preserving equipment to the future isolated person should they require it.” According to Torres, the JFWORX team is invaluable to improving this SERE equipment. “Getting the opportunity to try out new knives gave me more insight on what would be more practical and useful for a downed pilot. I am excited to see an improvement on kits that have not changed through the ages,” said Senior Airman Kyle Alvarez of the 22TRS and 336TRG. A modernized survival kit enables the warfighter to survive with updated tools. Sharp knives for food, water for drinking and medical bags for first-aid are just three of the improvements currently being worked for the kit. “The overall goal of JFWORX is to provide personnel with the opportunity to rapidly identify and develop solutions to time-critical operational needs,” said Capt. Goins. “Emphasis is placed on increasing our customer-centric focus and forming partnerships with other operational units.” JFWORX projects are managed entirely by its members, who are military and civilian employees of the lab. Their projects are designed with the warfighter in mind. J.D. Bales, a mechanical engineer in the AFRL, is one of the newer members on the team. “I was excited to work on a team where my ideas and insights were heard,” said Bales. “Brainstorming on projects with many viewpoints is always good.” Supplying Airmen with advanced state-of-the-art survival kits is just one of the many projects the team works continuously.   For more stories like these, click HERE

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920th Rescue Wing pays tribute to fallen pararescuemen during memorial

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, FL, UNITED STATES 03.27.2018 Story by Tech. Sgt. Lindsey Maurice  920th Rescue Wing/Public Affairs  It was a roller coaster of emotions for the approximately 1,500 people who joined together from across the globe to pay tribute to pararescuemen Master Sgt. William Posch and Staff Sgt. Carl Enis March 27, 2018 in aircraft Hangar 750. The pararescuemen assigned to the 308th Rescue Squadron were two of the seven Airmen killed in an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crash in Anbar Province, Iraq, March 15, 2018. “Today is a day in which we should remember the joy, the laughter, the magnanimous life of Bill and Carl and the entire crew of Jolly 51,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Hanks, 308th RQS commander. “Today is another day in our healing process for family, friends, teammates, and the community. It is a day in which we recognize the pain is real and still raw, but it is also the day we celebrate the lives of our fallen heroes.” All eyes were on the families of the fallen as their 60-vehicle motorcade of military and civilian police, SWAT teams and veteran motorcyclists arrived at the hangar. The crowd of predominately camouflage uniforms became still at the presentation of the colors followed by a steel-guitar solo performance of the National Anthem by pararescueman retired Chief Master Sgt. Robert Disney. “You may be asking yourselves why the multicam and field uniforms for this ceremony,” said 1st Lt. Dan Warren, 212th Rescue Squadron combat rescue officer and master of ceremonies. “It’s our way of honoring warriors killed in action. Most of the 308th Rescue Squadron is still deployed to a combat theater on alert every day unable to attend their own teammates’ memorial. They can’t wear blues and Bill’s and Carl’s funerals will be the place where we honor their legacy in dress blues and pushups. This is a celebration of the lives and legacies of these fallen heroes.” The brotherly love of the Guardian Angel community was at the forefront of the ceremony as fellow PJs and combat rescue officers traveled from as far as England, Alaska, Oregon, Arizona, and Georgia among other locations to show their support for the families. The maroon sea of their maroon berets filling the seats directly behind the family and the entire right side of the hangar was a visual statement of their support. Guardian Angel is comprised of CROs; PJs; survival, evasion, resistance, and escape specialists and uniquely trained support personnel dedicated to the Air Force core function of personnel recovery. “Over the past week I’ve had the honor and the privilege to be with our gold star families and hear their stories how they as wives, mothers, sisters, brothers, family and friends remember Bill and Carl,” Hanks said. “You have paid the ultimate sacrifice as well. Please know with this loss you’ve also gained 1,000 sons, brothers, uncles, sisters and fathers. You can call anywhere around the world and mention who you are and any of these men amongst you will drop everything to meet your request.” The lives deeply touched by the two American heroes was evident as speaker after speaker took to the podium sharing sentimental memories and hilarious tales of embarrassing blunders, adrenaline-fueled adventures and the good times. “I’ve known Bill and Carl for an incredibly long time.” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Langley, 308th RQS pararescueman who met Posch through lifeguarding as a teenager and Enis in college at Florida State University. “We are all better for knowing these two. They taught us so much about life and they have made the world such an entertaining place. We should always celebrate the great times, the rescues, the laughter and the memories.” Posch was raised in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, where he spent much of his teenage years lifeguarding for the Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue. In 2000, he enlisted into the Air Force and graduated from the Pararescue Apprentice Course in 2003. After leaving active duty, Posch became a traditional reservist at the 308th RQS. In 2010, he began working full time at the unit. He was a combat veteran who participated in numerous joint special operations missions and tactical deployments. He supported major military operations at home and abroad including Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, Joint Task Force Katrina, JTF NASA Space Shuttle launch and recovery, and JTF Harvey, where he and his fellow rescue warriors saved 235 hurricane victims in Texas. In 2013, Posch was named one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. But of all his accomplishments, each person to take the podium noted that Posch’s proudest moments came with fatherhood. “Every time I spoke with him, that’s what he talked about – how much he loved his boys and how much he loved being a father,” said Senior Master[…]

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Alaska National Guardsmen support Arctic Ocean Ice Exercise

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, ALASKA, AK, UNITED STATES 03.09.2018 Story by Sgt. David Bedard  Alaska National Guard Public Affairs  To most people – even Alaskans who are accustomed to the cold – the North Pole might as well be the surface of the moon in terms of its remoteness and hostility to the prospects of human survival. Whereas the South Pole is located over the bedrock of the Antarctic continental land mass, the North Pole is an unmoored collection of perpetually shifting ice sheets covering the inky depths of the Arctic Ocean. The only thing that is permanent there is the frigid air. When the cargo ramp of the 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II opened, the full force of the North Pole cold spilled into the aircraft’s interior hold. Alaska Air National Guard Maj. Brock Roden, a combat rescue officer with the 212th Rescue Squadron, stood up under the burden of a survival rucksack rigged between his legs. His face was wrapped tightly in a thermal mask to ward off flash frostbite. When the call was given to jump, Roden and his stick of Guardian Angels waddled like penguin parachutists toward the edge of the ramp and stepped into the minus 28-degree Fahrenheit air. After he verified he was descending under a fully deployed parachute canopy, Roden scanned the landscape below to ensure he wouldn’t touch down in open water or a craggy convergence of overlapping sea ice. Once he landed, Roden’s primary mission began: linking up with Arctic Sustainment Package equipment at the U.S. Navy’s Ice Camp Skate in an effort to survive and thrive in some of the most foreboding environmental conditions on the planet. More than 50 Alaska National Guardsmen supported the Navy’s Ice Exercise several hundred miles north of the Alaska coastline February and March 2018. The training was linked to the Alaska National Guard’s Arctic Eagle 2018, a statewide exercise involving national, state and local agencies designed to provide opportunities for participants to conduct sustained operations in Arctic conditions. The Alaska Air National Guard’s 176th Wing supported preparation for the exercise with airdrop missions by partnering with U.S. Marine Corps riggers from 1st Air Delivery Platoon, Landing Support Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, to palletize U.S. Navy equipment and conduct air drop operations via a 249th Airlift Squadron C-17 Globemaster III aircraft on to the Beaufort Sea. The Arctic Sustainment Package is a rapidly deployable air-droppable package, including Guardian Angels, that can provide shelter, heat, transportation, fuel and food for 28 people for up to six and a half days in extreme Arctic conditions. “This was the first time the Arctic Sustainment Package has been dropped from our new HC-130J after receiving four new models last year,” said Alaska Air National Guard Lt. Col. Eric Budd, 211th RQS commander. “The ASP has been dropped out of a C-17 before, but it was finally nice to drop it out of our aircraft.” The package was a key piece of the exercise for Airmen of the 212th RQS as well. “The PJ training objective is to exercise and validate use of the Arctic Sustainment Package in a remote, austere Arctic environment such as the icepack of the Arctic Ocean,” Roden said. The officer said his team verified seemingly small things such as using camp stoves with liquid fuel versus white gas. Little things can become critically important in the Arctic, and having an operating stove can mean the difference between enjoying a hot meal or trying to eat a frozen entree. Because PJs are skilled medics, Roden said they also trained in maintaining intravenous infusion bags and monitoring the health of the 28 people at the camp. Ice Camp Skate is named after the attack submarine USS Skate, which was the first submarine to break through the ice March 17, 1959. Submarines that participated in the exercise were the Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) from Bangor, Washington; the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768) from Groton, Connecticut; and the Royal Navy’s Trafalgar-class HMS Trenchant. “The first [training] objective is conduct Arctic readiness of our submarine force,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. James Pitts, commander of the Undersea Warfighting Development Center, San Diego. “A subset of that objective is we’re going to test some of our newest exercise torpedoes and verify they react in the real environment here the way we expect them to react in modeling and simulation.” Pitts explained why the Navy invites Department of Defense partners like the pararescuemen to Ice Camp Skate. “We open the ice base camp to other DoD or academic partners to do exercises or testing they would like to accomplish, taking advantage of an ice camp floating on an ice floe in the Beaufort Sea,” the admiral said. Fighting through snowstorms[…]

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Joint Air Force, Army team enhances Afghanistan rescue mission

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN 03.09.2018 Story by Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook  455th Air Expeditionary Wing   The night is dark. The air is heavy, filled with the smoke and dust of Afghanistan. On the flightline at Bagram Airfield, a U.S. Army CH-47F Chinook helicopter sits beating thunder with its blades against the sky, waiting.  An 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron Guardian Angel team, which consists of pararescuemen and combat rescue officers, runs out and boards. As the Guardian Angles settle into their seats, the pilots on the Chinook begin their takeoff protocol. The helicopter takes off against the night sky over the mountainous terrain. During the ensuing flight, two teams will conduct a personnel recovery exercise, testing their capability to work together as they extricate simulated casualties from a downed aircraft. For the first time during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force are working together to execute personnel recovery. “Personnel recovery is a no-fail strategic mission,” said Maj. Robert Wilson, 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron commander. “The interoperability between the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force, by way of the CH-47F, has enabled our Guardian Angel teams to effectively conduct a wide variety of PR operations in ways not previously attainable.” Executing PR missions with CH-47Fs gives the seven-man Guardian Angel team unique advantages; such as an increased capacity to recover a larger number of isolated personnel and the ability to fly further and higher than previous platforms allowed. “This partnership strengthens the resolve of those fighting on the ground and in the air to fight harder and longer, knowing that someone will always have their back,” said Wilson. The Chinook is a twin-turbine, tandem-rotor, heavy lift transport helicopter with a useful load of up to 25,000 lbs. With its high altitude and payload capability, the CH-47F is vital to operations overseas, such as OFS. Its capabilities include medical evacuation, aircraft recovery, parachute drops, disaster relief, and combat search and rescue. “I’ve been flying CH-47 models for 22 years,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Shawn Miller, CH-47F pilot with the South Carolina Army National Guard. “This is an unprecedented tasking. Never in its history has an Army unit been tasked to provide dedicated aviation assets and crew to conduct joint personnel recovery operations.” Miller’s team is also joined by the Illinois Army National Guard. The CH-47F model, with its enhanced capabilities, combined with the combat search and rescue mission set, allows the team as a whole to transport more personnel and essential equipment higher, further distances, and offer longer on-scene station times than ever before, Miller added. As the conflict over the last 17 years has proven time and time again, joint operations between services capitalize on the unique skillset each branch brings to the fight. “The CH-47F’s speed, size, and range increases Guardian Angel rescue team’s ability to project the full gambit of rescue capabilities across the area of operations, bringing lifesaving capabilities to U.S. and coalition forces in need,” said an 83rd ERQS combat rescue officer. The larger aircraft means a larger Army ground security team, which minimizes the threat to the GA forces and allows them to solely focus on the rescue. “[Additionally] having the ability to load our entire team onto a single airframe greatly enhances our span of control of our technical rescue specialties and the ability to treat multiple patients at once,” added the CRO. The aircraft can move up to three litter or 15 ambulatory patients, depending on how the aircraft is configured. While the CH-47Fs provide many advantages, they are not without their own unique set of risks as well. “Yes, this aircraft has more space, power and fuel capacity, but it is also a bigger aircraft, hence a bigger target,” said an 83rd ERQS pararescueman, also known as a PJ. “Flying in a Chinook has its benefits, but like everything, you take the good with the bad.” For missions in Afghanistan, because of its high altitudes and current enemy threats, the benefits seem to outweigh the risks of using a different system. Especially in terms of the varied mission sets required of the PR enterprise. “As a team we are highly trained in a wide variety of technical rescue specialties, which can also require a large amount of professional gear,” said the PJ. “These specialties can range from high angle/alpine rescue…to scuba diving.” The pararescue team also specializes in cold weather/avalanche or snow and ice rescue, collapsed structure/confined space extrication, or many different forms of jump operations in static-line or free-fall configuration. “On top of all that we still have gear for our main purpose, which is para-medicine. So having said that, using the Chinook allows us to utilize a team to its full capacity.” Using the teams to their full capacity is all about strengthening the resolve of those[…]

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