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Mon, May 11, 2009

Navy Search, Rescue Swimmers Ready To Take Plunge

You Want Me To Jump Out Of What? Where?

Search and Rescue (SAR) swimmers aboard amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) continually train in preparation for lifesaving missions. Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC) 21 Squadron, 3rd Detachment is deployed aboard Boxer in support of maritime security and counterpiracy operations, where training and preparedness are key priorities.

"We conduct search and rescue training and routine operations daily," said HSC 21 Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class (AW/AC) Jake Woodley, a SAR swimmer from Berryton, Kan.

"We support Boxer's vertical replenishments, rigid-hull inflatable boat operations and the current primary mission of counterpiracy operations." SAR swimmers must complete nearly one year of training before going to their first squadron.

"My training consisted of four weeks of Naval Aircrew Candidate School, five weeks Aviation Rescue Swimmer School, sixteen weeks of Aviation Warfare 'A' School and sixteen weeks of Fleet Replacement Air Crewman School," said Woodley. Once Sailors complete aircrew and rescue swimmer school, they enter into what many view as one of the most dangerous jobs in the fleet.

"Swimming most of my life and enjoying it got me interested in becoming a SAR swimmer. The best part of my job is jumping out of a moving aircraft and plunging into the water," said Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class Ryne Mueller, a SAR swimmer from Clinton, Iowa. Like every rate and profession in the Navy, SAR swimmers use tools-of-the-trade to successfully train and execute operations.

"We use wetsuits, fins and masks and two different types of small firearms for self-defense," said Woodley.

"We fly different rescue equipment that is specific to a survivor's physical injuries. These include a rescue basket -- to hoist a survivor to the helicopter from the ocean -- and a variety of emergency gear."

Boxer is deployed as part of Boxer Amphibious Readiness Group/13th Marine Expeditionary Unit supporting maritime security operations (MSO) in the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet Area of Operations. MSO help develop security in the maritime environment and compliment the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations. From security arises stability that results in global economic prosperity. These operations seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment to transport personnel and weapons or serve as a venue for attack. [ANN Salutes Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Jackson]

E-I-C Note: As the PROUD Uncle to one of the Navy's former SAR swimmers, (back in civilian life at this point), I was pleased to select this story for today's roster. The bravery of these kids is phenomenal... and the system that supports them has no equal. I'm proud of my nephew... and I hope that the nation is as proud of all these kinds as I am, of one in particular.

FMI: www.navy.mil/local/lhd4

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