Fort Bliss Soldiers take on water survival training

Staff Sgt. Norman Llamas, 11th ADA Public Affairs
Monday, August 19, 2013 - 10:39pm

Some Soldiers receive water survival training during their Army Basic Combat Training, but after that there’s no telling how long before they’ll receive additional training. With that in mind, the leadership of Battery A, 5th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery, 11th Air Defense Artillery “Imperial” Brigade, put together a water survival training course that tested all those who participated.

The training took place at the Replica Aquatic Center, Aug. 8. Soldiers with Battery A and Battery B, 5th Bn., 52nd ADA, as well as Soldiers with Battery A, 2nd Regiment, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, participated in the training.

“The training was designed to reduce fear, raise self-confidence and increase our Soldiers’ water survival ability level in case of a water-borne mishap,” said Capt. Edwin Gonzalez, commander of the Battery A “Assassins,” 5th Bn., 52nd ADA.

“This is fun, but I feel as if I just got back from the gym,” said Spc. Kyle Laroche, a wheeled-vehicle mechanic assigned to 2nd Regt., THAAD. “After treading water for one minute here with an M-16 rifle, I feel very tired and I can say that it was very challenging.” 

Despite having previously taken a life guard course when he was in high school, Laroche said he feels this was a great learning experience because if he’s ever in a position where he needs to be able to rescue someone or negotiate an obstacle in water, he’ll be able to.

“I’m getting a lot of positive feedback from the Soldiers,” said Sgt. Timothy Vandruff, a squad leader with the Fire Control platoon, Battery A, 5th Bn., 52nd ADA, who was one of the training NCOs running the event. “All the Soldiers like getting in the pool and we try to make the classes fun for them, but we do make sure that all the phases of training are treated as if it were real life situations. As long as we train to standard and no-one gets hurt, we can have some fun with it.

“I was certified to train by the Replica Aquatic Center’s life guards. The training took about four hours, since I had previously taken the certification course elsewhere.”

“In my opinion, this class is a good starting foundation for rescue swimming,” said Sgt. Samuel Francher, a squad leader with the launcher platoon, Battery A, 5th Bn., 52nd ADA, who served as a safety during the training event.

For the most part, the Soldiers looked enthusiastic and seemed to enjoy the training. The units were at the aquatic center from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and trained all their Soldiers in all three levels of water survival; Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.

In the beginner level, the Soldiers learned to tread water with an M-16 rifle, the travel stroke without a rucksack and they performed a buoyancy test. In the intermediate level, they learned to tow another Soldier by the collar by using a side stroke technique and they learned to use the Army Combat Uniform trousers as a flotation device. Lastly, in the advanced level, the Soldiers learned both the jump swim and the underwater swimming techniques.

The “Assassins,” having been part of the most recent “Imperial” Brigade redeployment, continue on their reset cycle and are slowly refortifying their numbers while continuing to train to remain proficient in their jobs. 


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