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Squadron gets hands-on in survival, rescue techniques

Members of the 180th Airlift Squadron, 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, participate in survival training in Northern Missouri June 4, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sheldon Thompson/RELEASED)

Members of the 180th Airlift Squadron, 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, participate in survival training in Northern Missouri June 4, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sheldon Thompson/RELEASED)

Members of the 180th Airlift Squadron, 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, participate in survival training in Northern Missouri June 4, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sheldon Thompson/RELEASED)

Members of the 180th Airlift Squadron, 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, participate in survival training in Northern Missouri June 4, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sheldon Thompson/RELEASED)

Members of the 180th Airlift Squadron, 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, participate in survival training in Northern Missouri June 4, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sheldon Thompson/RELEASED)

Members of the 180th Airlift Squadron, 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, participate in survival training in Northern Missouri June 4, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sheldon Thompson/RELEASED)

ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- Seventy-two Missouri Air National Guard members of the 180th Airlift Squadron here successfully completed a combat survival refresher course June 2-4 at King Lake Conservation Area, Maysville, Mo.

The aircrew members are required to undergo the training every three years.

"With today's deployments, this training is very important," said Chief Master Sgt. Mark A. Frye, aircrew flight equipment supervisor. He added that the training is also important because it recently changed its focus from aircrew survival to aircrew rescue.

"It is more rescue and recovery because there are more rescue units available," he said.

The training is still designed to reacquaint Airmen with aircraft survival equipment and survival techniques such as land navigation, evasion and self-aid, buddy care, but it also concentrates on rescue techniques like guiding rescuers to a position using survival radios.

Training at King Lake also allowed Airmen the opportunity to get in the water and practice survival hands-on, in 20-man life rafts. They also reviewed sea-dye marker s and desalinators that remove salt and other minerals from water for safe drinking.

Airmen from the squadron's Flight Equipment Shop planned and provided the training.

"Aviation Flight Equipment deserves a lot of credit for putting together such realistic trainings," said Lt. Col. Byron B. Newell, chief of standardization and evaluation, 139th Operations Group. "It will increase our survivability if we ever find ourselves in the real situation."

A select few also had the uplifting experience of a helicopter rescue, first hand.

Participating Airmen were hoisted from the water as well as from the ground onto a Missouri Army Guard UH-60 Black Hawk.

"Realistic training such as this is invaluable," said Newell. "No amount of classroom instruction can prepare you for how difficult it is to be hoisted from the water to a helicopter."