Air Force ROTC cadets learn combat water survival

A Kent State Air Force cadet waits in the water for a fellow cadet to walk off the high dive blindfolded as a part of the Combat Water Survival Training, Sunday morning, Feb. 16, 2014, at the University of Akron’s natatorium. During the training they learned survival tactics that are important for use in the military in case of an emergency situation.

Mary Booth

On Sunday, the Air Force ROTC detachment met at The University of Akron’s Ocasek Natatorium for their annual Combat Water Survival Training. The cadets learned tactical skills and survival mechanisms that can be used in the water.

During CWST, the cadets separated into six groups and each one was sent to a different station, Chad Mortimer, junior nursing major and a cadet in the Air Force ROTC, said. Mortimer said that each station provided a different scenario for the cadets to learn a useful skill that could potentially be used in combat.

At one of the stations, the cadets used their uniforms as a way to keep afloat in the water.

“For the flotation and treading water station, our Airman Battle Uniforms can actually be blown up and used as a flotation device,” Mortimer said. “We can even seal the pants of our ABU’s and use them to float in the water.”

At another station, the cadets had to jump off of the top of a 50-foot-tall diving board blindfolded.

Derek McGuckin, freshman aeronautical engineering major and a cadet in the Air Force ROTC, was at his first CWST and was not nervous to do the jump.

“I like heights, but when I jumped it was so high that I just kept waiting and waiting to hit the water,” he said. “You’re airborne so much longer than you think.”

There were four other stations at the CWST. One station was an M-16 swim where cadets had to swim with their uniforms on and hold a mock rifle over their head. Another was an equipment ditch where cadets had to take off their equipment while underwater and make it to the edge of the pool.

Sam Pittman, freshman computer science major and a cadet in the Air Force ROTC, said that it is critical to learn combat water skills because you never know when they will come in handy.

“Going to different training houses you are bound to learn important water survival skills somewhere along the road,” Pittman said. “So it’s better to know how to swim and learn all of the techniques now.”

During the entirety of CWST there were two cadets scuba diving to ensure safety and encourage all of the underclassmen throughout the event. Clayton Proch, senior criminal justice major and a cadet in the Air Force ROTC, was selected to be one of the scuba divers.

“Scuba is more of a motivational factor for all of the cadets who are participating,” Proch said. “It’s also a way to show the underclassmen all of the fun you can have if you stick with the program.”

There were cadets that came from five different schools to participate in the Combat Water Survival Training.

“Of course we have the most cadets from Kent and Akron,” Robert Arthur, senior business management major and a cadet in the Air Force ROTC said. “But we also have cadets from Case Western, Cleveland State and Youngstown State.”

Arthur said CWST is a huge team building event, and it’s a great chance for the cadets to create a sense of morale.

“Throughout the ROTC program you are with the other cadets for at least four years,” Arthur said. “You go through things like Combat Water together, and you really do build camaraderie with one another and become best friends.”

For more information about the Air Force ROTC check out Kent’s AFROTC homepage.

Contact Mary Booth at [email protected].