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179th AW aircrew maintains readiness amid COVID-19

Aircrew from the 179th Airlift Wing Operations Group, Ohio National Guard, participate in combat survival training May 16, 2019, in Butler, Ohio. The 179th AW has made maintaining readiness while abiding by the COVID-19 safety precautions a priority throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Alexis Wade)

Aircrew from the 179th Airlift Wing Operations Group, Ohio National Guard, participate in combat survival training May 16, 2019, in Butler, Ohio. The 179th AW has made maintaining readiness while abiding by the COVID-19 safety precautions a priority throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Alexis Wade)

MANSFIELD, Ohio -- Worldwide, life as we know it has vastly changed in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, causing us to adapt and change how we operate in our everyday lives. For aircrew members at the 179th Airlift Wing, adaptability has been key in continuing training to ensure mission readiness while following the necessary safety precautions during combat survival training.

Master Sgt. William Hamilton, lead trainer for continuation training in the Aircrew Flight Equipment shop at the 179th Airlift Wing, Mansfield, Ohio, conducted combat survival training for aircrew members and believes it was a perfect example in the adaptability the Guard exemplifies.

The training consisted of a “cradle to grave” experience for anything the aircrew might encounter in a combat evasion situation in hostile territory, said Hamilton.

During the training, the aircrew perfected their skills in preparing for evasion, concealment, land navigation, evasive movement techniques, sustenance and water procurement, shelter building, formation evasion maneuvers, fire craft class and many more skills needed in an evasion situation.

One of the key points Hamilton hopes is taken away from these trainings is confidence.

Keeping a positive mental attitude in a combat evasion situation is key, and completing these trainings fosters confidence which will contribute to maintaining a positive mental attitude no matter what the aircrew are faced with, said Hamilton.

Hamilton said that this year's training had to be altered to ensure the safety of the aircrew due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We had to change up the classroom setting, we had a smaller group than usual and had fewer group activities,” said Hamilton. “This time the training was more individually based, and we made sure to maintain our distance and wear proper protective personal equipment if that distance was unable to be met.”

For Hamilton, although the circumstances the world is facing right now is unlike anything anyone has experienced in their lifetime, he believes the Guard has done an amazing job at adapting.

“The R in Guard stands for resilience,” Hamilton joked. “I have been doing this for 18 years, and each year we are doing something different. Whether its regulations being changed or adapting to socially distancing, we have always been great at adapting and overcoming whatever comes our way. This is just another example of the great resiliency the Guard has.”

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