FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --
Training is an essential tool that helps ensure the success of every mission in the Air Force. In fact, there are squadrons dedicated to training Airmen, preparing them to perform their missions around the world, while simultaneously performing their own.
The 36th Rescue Squadron at Fairchild Air Force Base participates in several missions including support for the survival school on base and working with National Search and Rescue to save lives of those in need of medical evacuation.
“We’re here to support the survival school and its four different courses,” said Lt. Col. Jennifer Golembiewski, 36th RQS director of operations. “We have a crew out in the National Forest where we perform medical evacuation for Department of Defense personnel who are training.”
The 36th RQS assists Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training by acting as a simulated enemy, which students must evade and hide from to avoid capture, which is a priority for military members who find themselves stranded behind enemy lines.
“We will perform what is called ‘aggression’, which is where we fly over students as an enemy helicopter so they have to evade us,” said Tech. Sgt. Casey Mabry, 36th RQS special mission aviator. “If they hear us, they’re supposed to hide under a tree or find a way to conceal themselves. We use a [forward looking infrared camera] to hunt them down too which is nice because it gives us an edge.”
The aggression prepares the students in the event they are captured by the enemy by providing the proper actions and tools needed to escape and evade captors.
The mission of the 36th RQS goes beyond supporting SERE courses by also providing search and rescue services for the local Spokane community and the Pacific Northwest region.
“We’re also a part of the National Search and Rescue plan, covering Washington, Oregon, Idaho and part of Montana,” Golembiewski said. “We are currently at 704 saves including [military] members and civilians.”
The 36th RQS provides support to the National Search and Rescue plan if they are minimally manned or if the location requires tools that outside agencies do not have access to.
The SERE students are not the only Airmen to receive training aid from the 36th RQS. Combat rescue officers and paratroopers from Joint Base Lewis McChord and the Portland Air National Guard Base receive a vast assortment of additional training.
“We also work with SERE CROs that need to stay current on their training so they jump with us,” Golembiewski said. “CROs will do water training by jumping out of the back of a [UH-1N helicopter] to simulate saving a survivor in the water. We’ll go low and slow when they jump out of the helicopter and then we’ll circle around and pick them up.”
The 36th RQS’s role of producing the world’s hardiest survivors through SERE training is complemented by performing rescues and supporting Fairchild’s community partners and civilians. The squadron is dedicated to producing more lethal and ready Airmen that are always ready to compete, deter and win.