193rd flight crew makes splash, trains to survive

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Erin Heiser
  • 193rd Special Operations Wing
Imagine the day: A warm summer breeze, a few dozen friends, and a lakeside retreat with refreshing water and beautiful surroundings... sounds like a great alternative to a weekend drill routine! But for several members of the 193rd Special Operations Squadron, this was drill and the exercise, although enjoyable, could one day save their lives. 

For the past four years, Wing members have ascended upon the picturesque private lake to take part in water survival training. The mandatory training requires air crew members participate in six specific water situations: emergency parachute trainer; the parachute drag; the one-man life raft; recovery device pick up; the canopy -simulated parachute disentanglement; and the 46-man life raft. Also included, as peripheral training, are safety briefings and land training instruction. 

Use of the lake is provided as a "thank you" by local community supporters. Phil Snyder, safety director for Mount Gretna Lake and a former Army National Guard first lieutenant, says he's "happy to do whatever possible to support the 193rd." His respect and admiration for those who wear the uniform is overwhelming. 

"It's a pleasure to open up the lake to the military and provide lifeguards for their training," said Snyder. "It's our way of supporting our troops and the local community, and we'll continue to do so for as long as they need us." 

Prior training occurred at the Middletown pool, but conditions were not realistic and did not simulate real-world environmental challenges. Today's training, while taking place in the safe and guarded waters of the lake, provide as much of a realistic environment for survival training as possible. 

First timer at the training, 1st Lt. Jason Tuell, weapons system officer for the 193rd, enjoyed the day's events, but noted that his favorite part was actually getting out of the water. 

"It's a good experience and a solid refresh of the training," Tuell said. "Even though we're out here having a good time, the truth is, we hope we never have to use such skills." 

Senior Master Sergeant Matt Marshall echoed the lieutenant's sentiments and summed up the importance of the day's training experience: "No one ever wants to have a bad day up there, but in the event that happens, this training prepares our men and women to better handle whatever comes their way."