Offutt-based Citizen Airmen practice water survival skills

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Drew Nystrom
  • Joint Force Headquarters - Nebraska National Guard

Thirty-five 170th Group Citizen Airmen, assigned to Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, participated in water survival and rescue training, administered by active-duty Survival Evasion Resistance Escape instructors, July 14, 2018, during monthly inactive duty training.

The aircrew members were briefed on the availability and use of tools contained in their survival gear before putting academics and theory to the test in the waters of Beaver Lake, located just south of the base. The hands-on water instruction included donning cold-water exposure suits; inflating and swimming with inflatable life preservers; and boarding and utilizing a 20-person survival raft.

“The Fightin’ Fifty-Fifth’s mission means our aircraft and crews fly, literally, all over the world,” said Col. David Preisman, 170th Group commander. “Periodic refresher training like this ensures we are confident and prepared for any challenge.”

“The training we accomplished today gives our teammates the basic skills needed to survive in case of a water landing,” said Tech. Sgt. Valentin Larios, 55th Operational Support Squadron SERE specialist. “Hopefully, they will never have to use these skills, but if they do, it could save their lives.”

In case of an emergency resulting in an aquatic landing, the crew would immediately enter a life raft and take accountability before preparing the raft for any challenges they may face including rough seas.

This was simulated during the training by creating choppy waters and spray with watercraft operated by Staff Sgt. Kevin Battista and Staff Sgt. Neal Troyer, 55th OSS SERE specialists.

“Failure to prepare is preparing to fail," Battista said. “While we don’t have access to the Atlantic or Pacific, we use every available means to make the training as realistic as possible.”

“Today was just one example of how the 55th Wing and the Nebraska Air National Guard do Total Force Integration right,” Lt. Col. Wendy Squarcia, 238th Combat Training Squadron commander said. “Integrating so fluidly, both culturally and operationally, increases the Air Force’s capacity and capability to support global and state operations every day.”

The 170th Group was activated June 26, 2007, under the Offutt AFB Future Total Force Initiative and the specific 55th Wing functional areas the 170th integrates with includes requirements; weapons and tactics; intelligence; base operations; and weather and aviation resource management. The group consists of 80 personnel, including 35 full-time and 45 traditional, or part-time, ANG members who provide initial qualification, re-qualification and upgrade training to active duty and ANG aircrew members within the 55th Wing.