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Dover Airman volunteers with SERE specialists

A Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter lowers a rescue basket as a USCG rescue diver instructs an Air Force student how to safely ascend during water survival training Sept. 27, 2018, in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Bowers Beach, Del. This simulation provides Airmen with an opportunity to use the skills and tactics they learned in the classroom portion of the training.

A Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter lowers a rescue basket as a USCG rescue diver instructs an Air Force student how to safely ascend during water survival training Sept. 27, 2018, in the Delaware Bay off the coast of Bowers Beach, Del. This simulation provides Airmen with an opportunity to use the skills and tactics they learned in the classroom portion of the training. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman First Class Dedan D. Dials)

Capt. Alex Lapointe, 337 AS C-17 pilot from Westover Air Reserve Base, climbs into a raft floating in the Atlantic Ocean Sept. 27, 2018, about 200 yards from the coast of Bowers Beach, Del. The practical application of the water survival training is accomplished after several classroom training sessions.

Capt. Alex Lapointe, 337 AS C-17 pilot from Westover Air Reserve Base, climbs into a raft floating in the Delaware Bay Sept. 27, 2018, about 200 yards from the coast of Bowers Beach, Del. The practical application of the water survival training is accomplished after several classroom training sessions. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman First Class Dedan D. Dials)

Airmen climb into a raft and await the arrival of a Coast Guard rescue team during water survival training Sept. 27, 2018, in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Bowers Beach, Del. The Air Force and Coast Guard work in tandem to create the most beneficial training environment for the Airmen.

Airmen climb into a raft and await the arrival of a Coast Guard rescue team during water survival training Sept. 27, 2018, in the Delaware Bay off the coast of Bowers Beach, Del. The Air Force and Coast Guard work in tandem to create the most beneficial training environment for the Airmen. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman First Class Dedan D. Dials)

Airmen completing water survival training watch from a raft as a Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter lifts a simulated survivor from the Atlantic Ocean Sept. 27, 2018, approximately 200 yards from the coast of Bowers Beach, Del. The Coast Guard rescue crew secured each Airman one by one and hoisted them into the aircraft to simulate a water rescue.

Airmen completing water survival training watch from a raft as a Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin helicopter lifts a simulated survivor from the Delaware Bay Sept. 27, 2018, approximately 200 yards from the coast of Bowers Beach, Del. The Coast Guard rescue crew secured each Airman one by one and hoisted them into the aircraft to simulate a water rescue. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman First Class Dedan D. Dials)

Tech. Sgt. Joseph Monreal, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape instructor, teaches an Airman how to properly secure his flotation device during water survival training Sept. 27, 2018, at Bowers Beach, Del. The training provides aircrews with the skills and knowledge they need to survive if forced to egress over water.

Tech. Sgt. Joseph Monreal, 436th Operations Support Squadron Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape instructor, teaches an Airman how to properly secure his flotation device during water survival training Sept. 27, 2018, at Bowers Beach, Del. The training provides aircrews with the skills and knowledge they need to survive if forced to egress over water. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman First Class Dedan D. Dials)

Airman 1st Class Dedan Dials, 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs broadcast journalist, volunteers to assist Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape water survival training of 12 Airmen Sept. 27, 2018, in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Bowers Beach, Del. SERE personnel rely on volunteers to assist with providing an effective training environment.

Airman 1st Class Dedan Dials, 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs broadcast journalist, volunteers to assist Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape water survival training of 12 Airmen Sept. 27, 2018, in the Delaware Bay off the coast of Bowers Beach, Del. SERE personnel rely on volunteers to assist with providing an effective training environment. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman First Class Dedan D. Dials)

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Over the past two months, I’ve had a somewhat unorthodox volunteer experience with the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists. I’ve been hoisted up into a helicopter from the ocean, pulled around on the back of a jet ski, and I’ve even driven around on an all-terrain vehicle dressed like an adversary.

All of this, of course, is in the name of training … but man is it fun!

Often times, I think, volunteerism can be seen as a chore or a hoop to jump through just before enlisted performance report season. But when I’m working with SERE, I get to have an absolute blast while also being a useful tool in the training process.

The SERE program specializes in training personnel on various survival tactics to provide Airmen who will be operating in high-risk situations with the tools they need to achieve their mission. Many Airmen who receive this training generally have to be recertified every one to three years. The organization that I’m getting the chance to volunteer with focuses on the recertification part of SERE training.

Most recently, I was able to assist with the water survival training. We spent all day down at Bowers Beach assisting the SERE specialists in educating the Airmen on proper tactics for a distress situation in the water. First, we pulled everyone out into the ocean with jet-skis, onto a raft and waited for a United States Coast Guard helicopter to come in. The Air Force and Coast guard work in close tandem for this training mission to provide a more hands-on, realistic scenario. Once it arrived, we went out one at a time and the Coast Guard rescue diver told us how to get in the basket to be hoisted up. Although it was freezing under the blades of the helicopter, it was an awesome experience to have.

Spending all day in a raft with 12 strangers 200 yards from the shore and getting hoisted up by a rescue helicopter may not appeal to some people, but I think it is one of the most unique and beneficial volunteer opportunities available to me. If the idea of being bored out of your mind or wasting your time is keeping you from getting out there and volunteering, know that there are some truly captivating and unique opportunities out there for you. I absolutely can’t wait to go back again and maybe I’ll get to drive the jet skis next time!

If you'd like to help volunteer for evasion or water survival training, please contact the 436th Operations Support Squadron SERE shop at (302) 677-3383.