MANSFIELD — Worldwide, life as we know it has vastly changed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, causing us to adapt and change how we operate in our everyday lives. For aircrew members at the 179th Airlift Wing, adaptability has been key in continuing training to ensure mission readiness while following the necessary safety precautions and protocols during combat survival training.
Master Sgt. William Hamilton, lead trainer for continuation training in the aircrew flight equipment shop at the 179th AW, recently conducted combat survival training for aircrew personnel and said it was a perfect example of the adaptability the National Guard exemplifies.
The training consisted of a “cradle to grave” experience for anything the aircrew might encounter during a combat evasion situation in hostile territory, Hamilton said.
During the training, the aircrew personnel perfected their skills in preparing for evasion, concealment, land navigation, evasive movement techniques, sustenance and water procurement, shelter building, formation evasion maneuvers, fire craft class and many more skills needed in an evasion situation.
One of the key points Hamilton said he hopes that personnel gain from the training is confidence.
Keeping a positive mental attitude in a combat evasion situation is key, and conducting this type of training fosters confidence, which will contribute to maintaining a positive mental attitude no matter what the aircrew personnel are faced with, he said. This year’s training had to be altered to ensure the safety of the aircrew personnel due to the risks related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We had to change up the classroom setting, we had a smaller group than usual and had fewer group activities,” Hamilton said. “This time the training was more individually based, and we made sure to maintain our distance and wear proper personal protective equipment if that distance was unable to be met.”
For Hamilton, although the circumstances the world is facing right now are unlike anything anyone has experienced in their lifetime, he believes the National Guard has done an amazing job at adapting.
“The ‘r’ in Guard stands for resilience,” Hamilton quipped. “I have been doing this for 18 years, and each year we are doing something different. Whether its regulations being changed or adapting to socially distancing, we have always been great at adapting and overcoming whatever comes our way. This is just another example of the great resiliency the Guard has.”