Making a Splash: 300th AS conducts mass deployment exercise

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Tom Brading
  • 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Sometimes the best way to learn to swim is to challenge yourself and jump in. 

More than 90 Airmen from the 300th Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina did just that. After deploying to Naval Air Station Key West, Fla. for a mass deployment exercise June 24 to 26, 2015, they took on many training tasks together and came through the challenging trip more skilled than they were just a couple days prior.   

During the weekend, the squadron accomplished more than 500 training events. 

The exercise included basic water survival and combat training, both conducted by U.S. Air Force Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape
(SERE) instructors, in addition the crew checked off many other training tasks.

"The water survival and combat training are both refreshers to information they already have," said Staff Sgt. Austin Aluis, 315th Operations Support Squadron SERE instructor. "But, maintaining a current status and being combat mission ready status to deploy globally at a moment's notice is why refreshing the information is so important.”

In addition, having those skill sets could make all the difference in a real world scenario. The southernmost point of the continental United States set for the perfect backdrop for the training. 

"Coming to Key West has been a great opportunity because we received training in a realistic scenario," said Maj. Jennifer Phillips, 300th AS C-17 pilot. "We're able to conduct training in the water and on the beach."

Phillips added that leaving the local area and dropping the crew off helps build a deployed mindset, which brings the group together and adds benefit to the training. 

During the water survival training, Airmen found themselves in a simulated parachute landing into the open ocean water. They learned to fight through their fears, collect their thoughts and come together safely from landing in the water, escaping a parachute canopy, linking arms and entering the life raft.

Airmen maintain a 36-month training cycle to stay qualified as aircrew members. According to Phillips, one of the biggest successes of the training event was pulling everyone together, planning a weekend that permitted individuals to take time from their civilian jobs and for some, traveling to Charleston. 

Phillips took the task of organizing the event, and although it was time consuming and often challenging, according to her, it was also a labor of love. 
 
"I love the 300th AS," said Phillips. "It's been rewarding to train alongside other members of the squadron."

According to Lt. Col. Mark Pool, acting 300th AS director of operations, the busy schedule accomplished by the 300th AS in three days would take five to six days normally. 

"The dormitories at the naval base brings a cohesive location for the service members," said Pool.

"Condensed training weekend, we're able to get everything done and everybody can be together and it makes us a stronger unit," said Phillips. 

“The training exercise gave our squadron a chance to reconnect,” said Col. Eric Fornell, 300th AS commander. “It’s amazing to see nearly ninety individuals cut three days out of their lives to be able and come together and accomplish this.”

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