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Airmen practice water rescue

Capt. Derek Flynn, 67th Fighter Squadron, waits for rescue in the waters off the coast of Okinawa. Captain Flynn was placed in the water as part of a Survival Evasion Resistance Escape exercise at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Oct. 24, 2007, during Local Operational Readiness Exercise Beverly High 08-1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky)

Capt. Derek Flynn, 67th Fighter Squadron, waits for rescue in the waters off the coast of Okinawa. Captain Flynn was placed in the water as part of a Survival Evasion Resistance Escape exercise at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Oct. 24, 2007, during Local Operational Readiness Exercise Beverly High 08-1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky)

Capt. Derek Flynn, 67th Fighter Squadron, waits for rescue in the waters off the coast of Okinawa. Captain Flynn was placed in the water as part of a Survival Evasion Resistance Escape exercise at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Oct. 24, 2007, during Local Operational Readiness Exercise Beverly High 08-1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky)

Capt. Derek Flynn, 67th Fighter Squadron, waits for rescue in the waters off the coast of Okinawa. Captain Flynn was placed in the water as part of a Survival Evasion Resistance Escape exercise at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Oct. 24, 2007, during Local Operational Readiness Exercise Beverly High 08-1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky)

Members of the 31st Rescue Squadron return Capt. Derek Flynn, 67th Fighter Squadron, to Kadena Air Base, Japan, after pulling him out of the waters off the coast of Okinawa. Captain Flynn was placed in the water as part of a Survival Evasion Resistance Escape exercise Oct. 24, 2007, during Local Operational Readiness Exercise Beverly High 08-1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky)

Members of the 31st Rescue Squadron return Capt. Derek Flynn, 67th Fighter Squadron, to Kadena Air Base, Japan, after pulling him out of the waters off the coast of Okinawa. Captain Flynn was placed in the water as part of a Survival Evasion Resistance Escape exercise Oct. 24, 2007, during Local Operational Readiness Exercise Beverly High 08-1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky)

Members of the 31st Rescue Squadron return Capt. Derek Flynn, 67th Fighter Squadron, to Kadena Air Base, Japan, after pulling him out of the waters off the coast of Okinawa. Captain Flynn was placed in the water as part of a Survival Evasion Resistance Escape exercise Oct. 24, 2007, during Local Operational Readiness Exercise Beverly High 08-1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky)

Members of the 31st Rescue Squadron return Capt. Derek Flynn, 67th Fighter Squadron, to Kadena Air Base, Japan, after pulling him out of the waters off the coast of Okinawa. Captain Flynn was placed in the water as part of a Survival Evasion Resistance Escape exercise Oct. 24, 2007, during Local Operational Readiness Exercise Beverly High 08-1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky)

Members of the 31st Rescue Squadron prepare to transport Capt. Derek Flynn, 67th Fighter Squadron, to medical facilities at Kadena Air Base, Japan, after pulling him out of the waters off the coast of Okinawa. Captain Flynn was placed in the water as part of a Survival Evasion Resistance Escape exercise Oct. 24, 2007, during Local Operational Readiness Exercise Beverly High 08-1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky)

Members of the 31st Rescue Squadron prepare to transport Capt. Derek Flynn, 67th Fighter Squadron, to medical facilities at Kadena Air Base, Japan, after pulling him out of the waters off the coast of Okinawa. Captain Flynn was placed in the water as part of a Survival Evasion Resistance Escape exercise Oct. 24, 2007, during Local Operational Readiness Exercise Beverly High 08-1. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Part of participating in a local operational readiness exercise is practicing skills and tactics that many hope they never have to use.

Such was the case when a water survival and rescue exercise was conducted off the coast of Okinawa Oct. 24 here as part of LORE Beverly High 08-1.

In the scenario a pilot ejects from his aircraft over the water far from shore.

"What we did was put the pilot out here in a life raft, to simulate that he ejected from an aircraft," said Tech. Sgt. Edmund Dawejko, 18th Operations Support Squadron survival evasion resistance escape specialist.

That pilot was Capt. Derek Flynn from the 67th Fighter Squadron.

"We're going out there to simulate a friendly ejection over water," he said. "We're testing basic search and rescue finding, and getting me out of the water as safe as possible."

The exercise is not just to practice the skills of the rescuers. But it's also to be sure the pilot has the skills he will need to be rescued.

"We're testing his survivability in the life raft," said Sergeant Dawejko. "We [also] want to see things like communication procedures and use of his survival equipment, to ensure that he's proficient with them, and that he's been trained and briefed properly prior to his mission."

There are many reasons pilots need to be trained in all the equipment that they might have to one day use.

"The main reason is to help with his recovery," said Sergeant Dawekjo, "so that the search and rescue teams are able to get in contact with him in a timely manner, and get his location."

One key element is how well the pilot uses his radio, said Sergeant Dawejko.

"He did pretty well," said the NCO.

The exercise also helped Kadena's search and rescue teams practice their skills to recover downed pilots.

"We're executing our personnel recovery procedures," said Sergeant Dawejko. "We're doing that to ensure the personnel coming out to recover him know what they are doing."
According to the NCO, it's ultimately the pilot's responsibility to get in contact with the recovery forces.

After nearly five hours in the water, a team from the 31st Rescue Squadron reached Captain Flynn and pulled him into one of their zodiac boats.

"The zodiac is a soft bottom boat, with inflatable sides," said Sergeant Dawejko. "It can be deflated so that it can be placed in a recovery helicopter or in the back of a KC-135."

After Captain Flynn was recovered and safely on land he reflected on lessons learned during this exercise.

"The biggest benefit to this type of training is in the event that it ever occurred," he said. "It's training so that they'd be able to get us out of the water fast and safe, before the enemy can find us.

"It's great to practice something like this," he said. "I think it was very important for pararescue to practice their methods."

According to Sergeant Dawejko, search and rescue professionals understand their commitment to the pilots.

"It's about fulfilling the mission and helping our pilots to return with honor," he said.

Captain Flynn said knowing that those who perform search and rescue are well trained is comforting.

"I love flying F-15's, and it's nice to know that there are pararescue guys out here to save us if something happens," he said.