United States of America · 1 Days · 12 Moments · August 2017

S.E.R.E training in Yakima

10 August 2017

Still epic. Learnt a lot! Great exposure and definately not everyday you get to play war games and hostile environments having a chinook drop u off and then come extract you off a mountain top in the desert of Seattle ! 👌👌👌👌👌 So bummed though. After all that we could have taken our phones out, but max had his shitty work phone with a camera so I got some cool selfies while we were evading the enemy hahah! Will get them off when we get back to Aus.
We got out of the way of the LZ ( landing zone) and they did a low pass to assess the ground. They weren't happy with landing so took Off and landed on top of the gully face, so We had to stomp it up this hectic gully wall which was about 500m high... it was fucked! I thought bill would have given up and rolled off, we ran back up the ramp into the chinook all looking like death with our cam Paint, soaked in sweat. The other crew were on there. They didn't look as bad they didn't have to do the cam paint. Think Kyle and Cory just wanted to see us girls do our contouring make up skills. Haha We flew back ramp down past MT Rainier again. It was stunning. A nice hour trip back. So awesome!! We stunk. I've never smelt that bad before except for our Initial combat survival course, Our flying suits were disgusting. Absolutely wrecked! Huge day. We drank like 12 litres of water over the hike and didn't pee once, she was HAaaaaawttttt!! It was an awesome Day! - not as bad as we thought but
Vectoring it in, So we could hear them come over but in the gully with the echoes it's hard to tell what direction it's coming in. We got visual and I called him with our grid reference and told him to take a 360 heading, we lost visual. He asked to authenticate with 2nd letter of the word of the day and I said " I authenticake Oscar" ahahaha couldn't get my words out we all laughed. God damn that authentiCAKE hahaha!! He said he had eyes on us.. that's when we realised he was in Comms with the other group aswell so they were vectoring him in aswell so he was getting confused. So we waited. Once he picked up the other group we jumped back on and got him visual again over the gully. Pretty epic watching a chinook overhead hooking down a gully looking for you. Looks like footage out of the Vietnam war or something. We called our ur right door 300m. So the crewman hanging out the chopper door with eyes out knew where to reference and they called eyes on.
I had the Brit instructor Dave up the front with my most the way talking to me and helping us, he was awesome they had so much info it was so good, they were so good, him and Kyle were the ones that came Trekking with us, Cory and all the others had to leave because they were actually going to do proper sere courses and get physical, interrogation. They loved us because it was more a get out and just see how they do things and a refresher for us because it was just an excercise so more just get out and participate and everyone see how everyone else doe it so they were so nice and just loved talking smack to us! And about all the courses. So interesting! I wouldn't mind doing more SERE stuff or as a posting but ours sucks coz it's in Townsville. It's all so interesting though. Fuck ever having to do it in real life though!!! So we got to a flat landing down in the ravine and waited On the chinook they had taken off and were about 30 mins away. I got a quick 411 run down off Kyle about
I was point lead so I was pacing us, we were killing it, the big hikes and runs and walks the last week trained us good ahaha. We were killing it. The two americans not so much. Bill was an albino white guy.:: biggish young guy... definately not fit. He did everything of what not to do in the book. Took his shirt off, was going lobster red, looked like the hulk with his cam paint, didn't have sunscreen; wasn't punching water, He ended up going down real quick when we were about 1.5 hrs away from our pick up point. We had to jump down in the creek and soak his shirt and try and get him in some sort of shade he looked in a bad way. Shivering and about to faint. The instructors had to scale the mountain, we were down in a massive ravine to try and call the chinook guys back in for a real med evac. ( medical evacuation.) we were like.. god dammit bill! We were killing it!
In a hostile environment scenario, so we had to call in REscue rescue rescue, chaingang 11 ( call sign.... haha nah it wasn't really, Dave the Brit wanted to give us that) we were Dragon 11. We gave location; sitrep ( situational report) etc. Rescue frequency gave us our rescue grid points via sarneg, And told us we had to be there by 18.30. So we had 5 hours to get from Where we were to that grid refernce by evading. Aka do not go in a straight line.. do every tactical survival lesson in the book. No roads, no traces, hides, comms, Water, cam paint. All that good stuff. So we did our immediate action plan which is to essentially get the fuck away from the crash site as far as you can immediately before your body gives in and made a hide; to send out Comms and make a plan. So we trudged on through the heat for 4 hours, talking discussing every step, corner, terrain, scaled hectic slate cliff faces, poison ivy, creek beds, saw a huge deer scaling and bouncing along the hills
Onboard and within 10 seconds we were up and out again. We weren't to sure what the scenario was so all getting really excited thinking oh shit this is cool, what's gunna happen, were they practicing a quick extraction. Pretty impressive, then we went low level over the other ridge and went through the same motions and landed at another compound and was met there by about 8 different guys. All instructors, a brit, some New Zealanders and a couple of photographers. There was only 5 of us in our group, me max Erin jack and Bella. And two Americans bill and Belinda ( they were observers) So they met us there. Made us smash down heaps of water. It was punching high 30's they were stressing that we will get pretty bad out there today. Cory, one of the American SERE instructors gave us a walk around brief and refresher on urban evasion and escape ( from small villages and compounds etc.. ) then we had a refresher on our radios then got our maps and went into a downed aircraft
You obviously can't hear anything flying, so the crew man ( which was actually a crew girl) gave us and Kyle ( our instructor ) a 2 minutes thumbs up as we were heading towards what looked like a concrete compound, we saw a huge flash in the distance coming in which we worked out was the other crew out there trying to get the pilots attention with a heliograph ( mirror) they work so well! I was surprised! There was Utes and people on top Of the compound and we all just looked at eachother and was like great.. getting dropped straight into a hostile environment. We're getting bagged for sure!! We came in just outside the concrete compound which was situated right on top of a hill face, ( chinooks can land anywhere so impressive) and we all ran off under the rotars and huge downwash, so much dust! Full Rambo style, straight over to hide behind a concrete wall. As we were watching the chook start raise the ramp the crewman started waving us back in, so we ran over unsure and all got back
The chinook looks bigger in the sky! So cool. But nervous flying rotary. ( helicopters are generally more statistically the ones to crash in military history) haha. The crew consists of a chief crewman, a door gunner and a second door man. ( loadmaster. Controlling Ramps, cargo, passengers etc) So loud are the rotars start up. Such a surreal feeling as it took off to taxi and sat hovering about 20ft off the ground, it was like being on a ride in a basket and it dangling off a point, rocking. So weird! The climb out was actually so smooth. My first time on a chinook definately not what I thought it would be. It was amazing, We flew just over an hour over the range low level past MT Rainier, amazing! Over to Yakima which is their survival training compound and land... Barron.. hot.. dessert; no trees. Massive rocky gullys and rolling hills.. great! We flew in flying the terrain at about 100ft that was awesome, they manoeuvre so smoothly.
So we tried to smash and memorise them because we were all so uncurrent in this stuff, I hate the radios. I hadn't touched one since deployment. Our sarneg was B A D C O W G I R L 0 1 2 34 5 6 7 8 9 Word of the day: money Duress word: bankrupt ( if you are captured) Number of the day: 24 Colour of the day: green Letter of the day: K So sarneg is used over the radio to pass across grid references or any numbers. They might say. For grid reference... = Romeo, golf, Charlie, Oscar, delta, alpha. Which you would use ( bad cowgirl ) And that would translate to: 863 421 Or they might say "Authenticate, what is the second letter of the word of the day" And you would say back: " I authenticate Oscar" They could ask you any combination to get a positive ID. Also by using IsOpreps which you would summit before hand. We obviously didn't have these for this excercise. We got given vests and met our crew man for the day and walked out to the chinook.
We met in the hanger TUHQ ( task unit head quarters) and Kyle ( The American S.E.R.E instructor ) was sitting in there waiting for us. He seemed nice! - dun dun dun... way to excited for our liking haha. We knew he'd take pleasure in killing us haha. We got all our water, rounded up sunnies and hats. And he drove us in a van across to the ARMY side of JBLM ( joint base McChord, the combined airforce and army base) over to the aviation hangers. We got given our EPA ( evasion plan of action) in the van to read and memorise in the car trip... ( you usually get these in intel briefs before flying missions on deployment) it has all your CSAR ( search and rescue) actions on it, authentification details ( word of the day etc) and also your immediate plan of action, Comms ( radio frequencies and calls, who your calling, location details, which direction of travel, primary location detector etc.) Sar dot references. ( the grid reference point your locations and rescue points are from)
We headed into base at 10am, not sure what we were walking Into. We had our back packs full of water and snacks. Peach rings, jerky, gummy bears and quest bar. Hopefully we weren't going to get searched and have them confiscated. We didn't take our phones thinking no way we would be able to take them. USAF S.E.R.E ( survival, evasion, rescue, escape) training... anything could happen, we thought we were going to be bagged and tagged for sure, they don't play around with that sort of training. Obviously with training on an excercise with us as coallition forces we wouldn't be roughed up as much but we were still thinking we were going to have a tough day.