Rescue missions prepare ROTC for real emergencies

Ryan Wilkinson

The time was 13:10.

A fine mist of rain filled the air. Wind blew through the trees, making it feel colder than it was. About 50 cadets, comprising four teams, or what the Air Force calls flights, stood – faces covered with camouflage paint – awaiting their next mission.

Word came from Tyronda Kelly, a senior architecture major and operations support squadron commander for the Air Force ROTC, that Bravo flight was headed to rescue a downed pilot.

It was 13:23. The mission had begun.

We left the command and control post, or what the cadets called C2, on a mission to find and rescue the downed pilot. While the scenario was fictitious, the rush was real. The cadets were competing to locate and extract the downed pilot from enemy territory faster than the other flights, so we set off from C2 into the woods at a run.

After locating several GPS waypoints, Bravo flight was alerted it was in the vicinity of the downed pilot.

“I found him,” said Mike Ziemba, freshman Russian translation major. “He is over here.”

The downed pilot, played by senior aeronautical studies major Andy Mares, had been lying behind several fallen logs, hiding from the imaginary enemy who took down his plane.

“I have a broken arm,” he said.

Bravo flight set up a security perimeter around Mares and the cadets addressed his broken arm with techniques they had learned earlier in the day.

“This really gets the cadets to focus on leadership and navigation skills,” Mares said. “It is like a simulated war zone.”

Mares will be graduating from Kent State in May and is leaving to begin training to become an Air Force pilot in August.

Bravo team successfully located and extracted the downed pilot from enemy territory. The mission was a success and lessons were learned.

“Just from the experience we are learning a lot,” Ziemba said. “We are moving around and working like a team.”

Contact ROTC and Greek Life reporter Ryan Wilkinson at [email protected].