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Preparing Airmen to ‘Return With Honor’

Pararescuemen assigned to the 57th Rescue Squadron and Polish military personnel prepare to board a Polish air force Mi-24 Hind during exercise Frozen Fury in Poland, March 15, 2018. Survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists assisted in coordinating the exercise, with the goal of providing SERE information sharing and interoperability with partner nations. (Courtesy Photo)

Pararescuemen assigned to the 57th Rescue Squadron and Polish military personnel prepare to board a Polish air force Mi-24 Hind during exercise Frozen Fury in Poland, March 15, 2018. Survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists assisted in coordinating the exercise, with the goal of providing SERE information sharing and interoperability with partner nations. (Courtesy Photo)

Aircrew members with the 1st Special Operations Wing evade opposing forces during combat survival training at the Eglin Range, Fla., Dec. 7, 2017. Aircrew members are required to attend survival, evasion, resistance and escape CST as a refresher every 36 months to ensure that vital skill sets are maintained in case they survive a crash or have to ditch their aircraft, potentially behind enemy lines. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Pick)

Aircrew members with the 1st Special Operations Wing evade opposing forces during combat survival training at the Eglin Range, Fla., Dec. 7, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joseph Pick)

Tech. Sgt. Travis, 347th Operations Support Squadron NCO in charge of Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training, briefs Col. Jennifer Short, 23d Wing commander, on training tools and techniques during a 347th Rescue Group immersion, Feb. 26, 2018, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Snider)

Tech. Sgt. Travis, 347th Operations Support Squadron NCO in charge of Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training, briefs Col. Jennifer Short, 23d Wing commander, on training tools and techniques during a 347th Rescue Group immersion, Feb. 26, 2018, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Snider)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. David Chorpenning teaches U.S. Marines from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 269 and Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 274 how to start a fire during survival evasion resistance and escape (SERE) training near Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, March 14, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ethan Pumphret)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. David Chorpenning teaches U.S. Marines from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 269 and Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 274 how to start a fire during survival evasion resistance and escape (SERE) training near Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, March 14, 2018. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ethan Pumphret)

Airmen from the 352d Special Operations Wing, the 48th Fighter Wing and the 100th Air Refueling Wing perform evasive maneuvers and water survival techniques during survival, evasion, resist and escape (SERE) training, March 2018, at RAF Mildenhall. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Philip Steiner)

Airmen from the 352d Special Operations Wing, the 48th Fighter Wing and the 100th Air Refueling Wing perform evasive maneuvers and water survival techniques during survival, evasion, resist and escape (SERE) training, March 2018, at RAF Mildenhall. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Philip Steiner)

Students in the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School, learn about different ways to communicate with aircraft at the Air Force Survival School Training Area in Cusick, Washington, Feb. 18, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Sean Campbell)

Students in the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School, learn about different ways to communicate with aircraft at the Air Force Survival School Training Area in Cusick, Washington, Feb. 18, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Sean Campbell)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- The last thing a pilot or aircrew member needs to be thinking about in the air is how they are going to survive on the ground if the worst was to happen.

Survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists ensure aircrew members have the peace of mind of knowing they are fully capable of enduring harsh conditions on their own while utilizing survival techniques to increase their probability of a safe and successful recovery in any environment.

“Our moto in SERE is to ‘Return With Honor,’” said a SERE specialist from the 57th Rescue Squadron. “Aircrew survival school was first introduced in 1940s and from that, [prisoners of war] were able to look at themselves in the mirror and know that they survived with honor.”

While most Airmen are trained to perform a tasks related to their career field, SERE specialists are trained to not only perform, but teach SERE related concepts. This includes water survival training, parachute training, severe environment training and anything else deemed necessary.

“We are the subject matter experts when it comes to an aircrews’ training,” said the 57th RQS SERE specialist. “We understand the physical psychological stressors that aircrews go through when they find themselves in a survival situation, the task saturation, and what the environment is doing to their faculties, both physically and mentally.”

This intimate knowledge of what it’s like being alone and pursued allows SERE specialists to provide unique insight on the state of mind of individuals in need of rescue. This information is used by rescue teams comprised of pararescuemen and combat rescue officers to facilitate a smooth recovery.

“I take a lot of pride in my job,” said a SERE specialist assigned to the 48th Operations Support Squadron. “I love doing SERE. We have to try and knock the training out of the park each time, so we give them the skills they need to survive.”

In the past 15 years, SERE specialists have provided lifesaving training to over 200,000 personnel from across all branches of the military, so operators and aircrew have the knowledge and confidence to stay focused on the mission while in the air, in the water or anywhere else they may find themselves around the globe.