SERE specialists, augmentees keep Airmen mission-ready

by Airman 1st Class Lane Plummer 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

After ejecting out of a flame-engulfed plane, you quickly activate your parachute over the ocean below. While gently descending toward the water, you notice land on the horizon. Your mind is racing with thoughts of the attack, possible enemies to avoid, surviving and getting home. You try to calm yourself as you begin to lean on the skills you’ve learned from the survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists and augmentees.

The SERE program readies Airmen for situations such as this by conducting operations around the world to prepare them to return with honor from any type of isolated situation.

SERE specialists stationed at Ramstein support this mission as well as the 86th Airlift Wing’s flying mission by ensuring aircrew members and other high-risk personnel are current and certified in SERE objectives.

However, conducting annual refresher training for more than 500 Airmen from Ramstein, including members from nine geographically separated units located across Europe and any transitioning personnel, can keep the two-instructor team busy. This is where support from the SERE augmentation program helps.

The augmentee program trains Airmen on how to survive situations where they may be isolated or held in captivity. Doing this not only helps those Airmen participating in the course, but also the Airmen that serve with these augmentees. These Airmen will be able to rely on these trained individuals for guidance on surviving extreme circumstances.

Augmentees may serve in several roles including: escaping the hold of a tangled parachute to save themselves from drowning, dragging a pilot through water, or acting as opposing forces and searching for escaping pilots during any number of water or combat survival scenarios.

“It was more challenging than the previous times I attended the class,” said Capt. Kenneth Jubb, 37th Airlift Squadron charlie flight commander. “I think it was beneficial having more people attend; it made it more difficult to evade and provided better training for the aircrew.”

Augmentees aren’t limited to any career specialty and only need to make time to volunteer for the program.

“What’s cool about the augmentee program is you can get out of it as much as you ask for,” said Staff Sgt. Dylan Forbes, 86th Maintenance Group auxiliary training instructor and SERE augmentee. “If you want to train on something, then the instructors are more than happy to grab a group and train you up.

“It’s also a great opportunity to meet people from other career fields around base and the area,” Forbes added. “It helps me get a bigger picture of the Air Force.”

While most Airmen who assist with the training are stationed at Ramstein, some Airmen such as Master Sgt. Christopher C. Hucks, NATO Communications and Information Agency Network Operations Center NCO in charge, come from places afar to take part.

“I travel down to Ramstein (for this) because it’s honestly my favorite part of the month,” Hucks said. “These guys really care about the instruction that is being given to them, and the augmenters are all awesome people. It’s a great change of pace from working in the office.”

Whether Airmen find themselves parachuting out of a plane or helping an aircrew survive isolation, SERE training augmentation is an essential tool for Airmen and is available to those who are interested.

For more information on how to become an augmentee, call 480-4414.