Learning the ropes

Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Nesha Humes Stanton
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Soldiers, Seamen and Airmen simulate a rescue mission during a tower and rescue climbing training Oct. 19 on Ramstein Air Base. The course was hosted by 1st Communications Maintenance Squadron Airmen.

Perched on a metal tower absorbing the afternoon sun, quiet crows peer down on ascending service members. Brightly colored ropes frame members’ equipment as they hang in the balance and simulate a rescue.

While the two-story training climb is a refresher for some, all military members understand their lessons learned may one day be the difference between life or death for another.

Airmen from the 1st Communications Maintenance Squadron hosted tower and rescue climbing training for Soldiers, Seamen and Airmen Oct. 19 on Ramstein Air Base.

The training is instrumental to ensuring service members can climb for a rescue in the event of an emergency.


Due to the nature of their job, Senior Airman Jordan Watson, 1st CMXS cable and antenna system technician and tower and rescue climbing training instructor, said practicing emergency procedures is necessary to warrant safety.

“This is providing units that have a mission that requires climbing the correct training and techniques to safely climb and, in the event of an emergency, rescue each other down,” he said.

Watson said they can also act as first responders to climb heights firefighters cannot reach.

“In a lot of locations, fire department or local emergency management services might not have the equipment on hand to come out and rescue,” Watson said. “We kind of act like first responders to that emergency.”

In order to ease students into learning the ropes, the five-day training goes over terminology, knot tying, equipment inspection and best climbing practices.

“(The students) are all very hands on and very interested,” Watson explained. “This has been a very easy class. Sometimes we have people who have trouble tying knots or with the rigging. But in this case, the class has kind of flown by. Everybody has been doing very well, being very communicative. … It’s pretty much close to ideal. (The students are) eager to learn.”

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Samuel Powell, American Forces Network Europe headquarters internal communications electrician, said himself and his co-workers attended the training in preparation for their trip to Camp Bondsteel, an Army Base in Ferizaj, Kosovo.

“We’re setting up a new antenna dish for (Camp Bondsteel) so AFN can broadcast to their base,” Powell said. “The training is going good. The instructors are very hands on and letting us do a lot. They’re very qualified and highly motivated.”

Although Powell has five years climbing experience during his mission on the USS Decatur, others like Spc. Ryan Stidham, AFN-Europe headquarters technical services engineer, are new to the climb.

“Its great training, and it’s given me the confidence in my equipment and gear.” Stidham said. “I feel more confident now to climb the towers.”

The 1st CMXS are the sole certifiers for tower and rescue climbing training in U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa.

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan Tess, American Forces Network Europe headquarters internal communications electrician, practices rescue mission procedures during tower and rescue climbing training Oct. 19 on Ramstein Air Base. The 1st Communications Maintenance Squadron are the sole certifiers for tower and rescue climbing training in U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa and complete annual training to remain certified.