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High Rollers perform survival training at Pickle Meadows

Nevada Air National Guard aircrew members participate in a refresher course on combat survival on August 16, 2014. Over 45 airmen were transported by two Nevada Army National Guard CH-47 Chinooks from the base in Reno, Nev. to the Toiyabe National Forest, near the Marine Corps' Mountain Warfare Training Center located in Pickle Meadows, Calif. (NV ANG Photo by Master Sgt. Suzanne Connell RELEASED)

Nevada Air National Guard aircrew members participate in a refresher course on combat survival on August 16, 2014. Over 45 airmen were transported by two Nevada Army National Guard CH-47 Chinooks from the base in Reno, Nev. to the Toiyabe National Forest, near the Marine Corps' Mountain Warfare Training Center located in Pickle Meadows, Calif. (NV ANG Photo by Master Sgt. Suzanne Connell RELEASED)

PICKLE MEADOWS, Calif --      On August 16th, over 45 aircrew members from the Nevada Air National Guard's 192nd Airlift Squadron participated in a combat survival refresher course in the Toiyabe National Forest. The training took place near the Marine Corps' Mountain Warfare Training Center, located in Pickle Meadows, Calif. The Airmen were transported from the 152nd Airlift Wing in Reno to the training site, south of Lake Tahoe, by two Nevada Army National Guard CH- 47 Chinook helicopters.

     Their landing site consisted of rugged terrain approximately 9,000 feet above sea level. Upon landing and egressing the helicopters, the "High Rollers" split into five training groups. Senior Airman Seth Tuia, an Aircrew Flight Equipment (AFE) member with 152nd Operations Support Squadron, said that each group was assigned, 
    
"Two or three AFE personnel as guides, and led directly into the exercise. It was great to see that section of the MWTC, something I've only heard about in military memoirs." Tuia also experienced leadership in action. It seemed to fall immediately into place with the crews, consisting of officers and non-commissioned officers, leading and following in response to lead officers' instructions. 
    
     The groups ensured that each Airman had water and a "wingman" prior to executing the hike from the drop zone to the actual training location. AFE personnel guided each group through refresher training in: land navigation, terrain feature association, evasion techniques, fire-starting, securing drinkable water, constructing temporary camouflaged shelters, self-aid and buddy care and survival, evasion, resistance, and escape (SERE) concepts. Each segment of the exercise was timed. The SERE briefing portion was the end the day's training.

     The appearance of the crews and support airmen varied, as they wore assorted Air Force uniforms to include: olive drab flightsuits, air battle uniforms, the "multicam" uniform, desert combat uniform, and the flame-resistant Army combat uniform.

     "Seeing and wearing the different uniforms helped the trainees understand how they work with the different color vegetation, terrain and rocks," said 192nd Airlift Squadron's AFE Master Sgt. Frank Tolete. "It also gives the crews a better idea how the camouflage works," Tolete added. 

      While the challenges of the training site's elevation and landscape played into the tasking, the training was well received by the aircrew and AFE members.

     For aircrew members, the initial Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training is approximately 3 weeks with a "refresher" training session every 2 years for Air National Guard aircrew.