Milwaukee Air Guard Aircrew Trains to Survive

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ryan Kuntze
  • 128th Air Refueling Wing
The 128th Air Refueling Wing's KC-135R aircrew conducted their annual survival training in the local Milwaukee community on Saturday, June 25, 2011.

The training reinforced combat and water survival tactics in the event an aircrew member is forced to endure in such a scenario, said Staff Sgt. Jenna Hildebrand, a 128th Air Refueling Wing Life Support specialist who has been with the Wing's Life Support shop for almost five years.

Though all aircrew members attend the Air Force survival school at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., Hildebrand said that the most important element of survival is a person's willingness to survive an adverse situation.

This year's survival training differs from past years' programs by incorporating small-group training sessions that use hands-on learning rather than large-group presentations, Hildebrand said. To further their training throughout the day, the aircrew members had to navigate themselves from area to area, which placed the training's emphasis on utility rather than rote memorization, she said.

The survival training included land navigation (using a compass to move from one map coordinate to another such coordinate), signal and vectoring (calling in coordinates for extraction via helicopter), open-water raft deployment, and food procurement. A locally stationed United States Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin participated in the signal and vectoring training by giving aircrew members the opportunity to use a hand-held radio while leading the helicopter crew to a precise set of coordinates.

"This training is really invaluable," Hildebrand said. "You never know if it will come up in life again, but everything our job [in Life Support] entails involves keeping our aircrews safe."