When referring to the Army, Soldiers wading through the water may not be one of the first images that enters a person's mind, however that is exactly what Soldiers with the 127th Quartermaster Company, 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command practiced June 1 at Atchley Pool on Fort Bragg.
The Soldiers trained on a total of four water survival techniques during the 2 hour block of instruction: water entry, side stroke and breast stroke technique, how to tread water and how to create a flotation device with their uniform.
2nd Lt. Michael Davis, a quartermaster officer for the 127th and Officer-in-Charge of the water survival training, said the training was an important skill for the Soldiers to learn, especially those in his platoon.
"All the Soldiers in our platoon are 92 whiskeys, and 9 times out of 10 we are going to be working near a body of water," said Davis. "This training can help validate if the Soldiers can swim, and if they don't know how to swim, it is something they can work on."
During the training the Soldiers split into two groups based on their swimming ability.Davis said all the Soldiers had to at least demonstrate they could swim on the shallow end before they could move to the deep end.
The strong swimmers moved off to another group where they worked from the 5 foot area, moving slowly into the 12 feet area. For those Soldiers who were not strong swimmers or were not comfortable with the water, Davis had a plan to help accommodate those Soldiers.
"The Soldiers who identified as being weak swimmers, they put a white bandana around their arm (to help identify them) and we began teaching them small fundamentals like cupping your hand or keeping your legs straight," said Davis. "We worked with them in a crawl, walk and run phase and by the end of all the training everyone went to the 12 foot area and dived in."
Spc. Jessica Box, a water purification specialist with the 127th QM said the she enjoyed the training, and the most useful part of the training was learning the different ways to swim.
"Learning proper ways to swim was beneficial because a lot of people said all they knew how to do is doggy paddle," Said Box. "I had never heard of the breast stroke or side stroke and learning the different techniques was very helpful."
Box said for her the most difficult part of the training was making the flotation device.
"After swimming, then removing the pants, tying them, placing them over your head; by then you're tired," said Box. "Making the flotation device was really difficult…but it was a cool technique."
Staff Sgt. Rico Stancil, a unit supply specialist who recently joined the 127th QM, said he also enjoyed learning the different techniques and enjoyed how the instructors taught the class.
"It was basically teaching me how to swim all over again," said Stancil. "I enjoyed how the instructors broke it down to us using the different techniques; they got me out of the nervous stage and helped me trust them and the equipment."
Stancil said while all the water survival skills were important, the most beneficial skill for him was learning to use the uniform as a flotation device.
"Using our uniforms to build a flotation device is really important because you could find yourself in a certain situation (in water) and some people would probably panic and not know what to do," said Stancil. "It can save lives."