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Aircrews Train to Survive in Hostile Territory

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Daniel Ter Haar,
  • 185th Air Refueling Wing, Iowa Air National Guard

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – No pilot would ever like to be behind enemy lines or in the middle of the wilderness. This is where Master Sgt. Jeff Campbell’s experience comes into play.

As a survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialist, or “SERE,“ assigned to the Iowa Air National Guard’s 185th Air Refueling Wing, Campbell’s expertise helps aircrew survive and return with honor.

This fall, Campbell worked with aircrew members from South Dakota’s 114th Fighter Wing on land and sea survival, escape and evasion. The pilots navigated through the woods at Newton Hills State Park using only a compass and a map while “enemy” actors tried to track them.

“At the heart of SERE is the ‘Return With Honor’ motto,” said Campbell. “We spend our careers training aircrew how to get back home, with honor, under any circumstances, whether that be in peacetime, wartime, or hostage environments. If we are not training aircrew to return With honor, then we are prepping for personnel recovery operations.”

As a SERE specialist, Campbell has attended courses on basic survival, tactical shooting and driving, and military parachuting. Campbell has also completed several medical courses.

Campbell there are relatively few SERE specialists because of the rigors of the training, so he stays busy training various units.

“There are SERE specialists in the Guard, the Reserves, and Active Duty. There just aren’t as many in the Guard and Reserves at this time,” he said. “SERE is beneficial for all Air Force aircrew. Not only do I work with and train ANG aircrew, I also go TDY to train and work with Reserve and Active Duty aircrew.“

Campbell says the training is beneficial to any Airmen who enjoy the outdoors and he is happy to impart his survival knowledge to anyone willing to learn.