HONOLULU, Hawaii — Soldiers of 2-6 Cavalry, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, and Coast Guardsman of the Coast Guard Station Barbers Point and Coast Guard Boat Station Honolulu, conducted joint over water rescue training off the coast of Honolulu, Feb. 16.
The training was conducted to prepare Army pilots for interacting with Coast Guard rescue teams in the event of a downed Army aircraft over water. Knowing the Coast Guard's processes and procedures are paramount to ensuring a swift and safe recovery.
"This training was for us to cross-train with the coast guard and for the aviators to get familiar with their aviation life support equipment as it would be used in a real world situation," said 1st Lt. Eric Bowerman, an S3 Planner and Kiowa pilot with 2-6 Cavalry.
"For them to train on this is a relatively low stress environment; it will help them be more prepared should this happen," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kyle Swope, the planner of this exercise.
As aviation officers, these Soldiers need to be familiar with rescue operations to ensure the Soldiers at their command can be properly trained.
"To be the leader of pilots and troops, we need to be familiar and comfortable enough with our equipment to be able to use it in an emergency situation," said Bowerman. "We also need to be familiar with their processes to sustain you in the water and extract you."
"Rehearsals pay off big dividends," said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Ron Green, lead instructor pilot. "If you get to practice what may actually happen, you're that much better prepared if something goes wrong along the way. If the helicopter crashes in the water you know about what to expect when the coast guard arrives on scene to get you out of the water."
One of the major differences between an Army extraction from water and a Coast Guard extraction from water is the inclusion of a dedicated rescue swimmer.
"The biggest lesson learned is to trust the rescue swimmer that is in the water," said Bowerman. "Take all orders from them, they are the experts in getting you from the water into the air."
This type of realistic training is invaluable for Army pilots located in the Pacific Theatre. Over water missions are common occurrences for these pilots, and being prepared for the worst-case scenario helps to bolster their confidence and ability to execute.
"I think this brings a level of realism to the training. In an actual emergency situation these are the people who are going to arrive, and this is really their whole mission," said Lt. Col. Aaron Martin, Commander, 2-6 Calvary. "It exercises their capability and it helps us see exactly how they work as opposed to the Army extraction and Army rescue systems."