• Sgt. Alexander Williams, a UH-60 helicopter repairer with the 4th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, concentrates keeping his head above water as he completes the two minutes of treading water event during a pre-dunker swim test at Fort Campbell, Ky., June 20. The uniform for the pre-dunker is full flight gear and equipment in order to pass to the next level.

    Aircrews train on water survival skills

    Sgt. Alexander Williams, a UH-60 helicopter repairer with the 4th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, concentrates keeping his head above water as he completes the two minutes of treading water event during a pre-dunker swim test at Fort Campbell, Ky...

  • Sgt. Justin Kaonohi, a UH-60 helicopter repairer with the Company C, 7th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, treads water for two minutes during a pre-dunker qualification at the Fort Campbell, Ky., Gardner Pool June 20. The test consisted of four separate standard events to include the 25 - yard breast stroke swim, the 15 - yard freestyle swim, the dead man's float for two minutes and of course the two minutes of treading water.

    Aircrews train on water survival skills

    Sgt. Justin Kaonohi, a UH-60 helicopter repairer with the Company C, 7th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, treads water for two minutes during a pre-dunker qualification at the Fort Campbell, Ky., Gardner Pool June 20...

  • Sgt. Joshua Stewart, a health care specialist and combat medic for Company C, 7th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, gasps for air as he swims the 25 - yard breast stroke during the pre-dunker qualification swim test at Fort Campbell, Ky., June 20.This training is vital to aircrew members who fly over large bodies of water because if their aircraft goes down they need to know how to exit the aircraft and to how to stay afloat until rescue arrives.

    Aircrews train on water survival skills

    Sgt. Joshua Stewart, a health care specialist and combat medic for Company C, 7th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, gasps for air as he swims the 25 - yard breast stroke during the pre-dunker qualification swim test at...

One by one, pilots and aircrew members assigned to the 159th Combat Aviation Brigade splashed - boots and all - into the deep end of Gardner Pool here June 20 to complete the first challenge of Dunker Heeds training.
This pre-dunker swim test was mandated by the Army in an effort to develop all crewmember's skills prior to Dunker Heeds, which teaches crews about the hazards of an over-water accident -- what caused them, how to avoid it and if the aircraft should go down, how to save one's own life and possibly the lives of others.
"The whole purpose of it is so you can survive if you ever ditch into an ocean or a big lake," said Sgt. 1st Class Clinton Bruce, the 159th CAB standardization instructor. "Helicopters sink very fast in the water and they want you to be able to effectively get out of the helicopter and then survive on the top of the water until rescue comes to get you."
Participating Soldiers said with a heavy pant that this swim test isn't easy and their actions showed it as many of them gasped for air as if the swimming seemed to engulf them, sinking them to the bottom of the 10-feet deep water.
"I'm ok, I'm ok," yelled Sgt. Justin Kaonohi, a Company C, 7th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment UH-60 helicopter repairer, as he tries to successfully complete the two-minutes of treading water for the third time. "I want to keep going."
Sgt. Alexander Williams, a UH-60 helicopter repairer with Company D, 4th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, said the dead-man's float was the tough part for him, because after completing everything else, he was extremely tired, due to his boots weighing him and his helmet was tough to keep up in the water.
Crewmembers said this is important to them, because this determines whether they stay in flight status or not.
"You have to have (this training) to keep flying, but it is volunteer," said Williams. "You will not be forced out of your (military occupational specialty), but you may not be able to fly. It all depends (on your unit)."
The pre-dunker training consists of four separate standard events.
"The swim test entails a 25 - yard swim, using the breast stroke only and it is unassisted, two-minutes of treading water, a two-minute dead-man's float, and 15 - yard of underwater swim, while holding your breath," said Bruce, "and all (of this) is with combat gear on, flight helmet, vest and flight gloves."
Of the 52 personnel who showed for training, 31 passed all events successfully.
Bruce explained what it took for those who passed to make it.
Many of the participants did not know what they were up against, so it took them quite a few tries to make it, said Bruce. There were only three individuals who were first round qualified, so one could assume how hard this test can be.
The 31 participants who passed their pre-dunker qualification are now ready to attend the Dunker training -- the Shallow Water Egress Trainer, Modular Egress Training Simulator and HEEDS training -- an Emergency Breathing System.
The training is a two-day course, with two four-hour sessions of academic instruction and two four-hour practical application sessions.
After the Soldiers have completed this training they have a better understanding of why it is important to remain calm underwater, which is so they can find a way out of their situation and save their own individual lives.

Page last updated Mon June 25th, 2012 at 00:00