News | Aug. 10, 2021

Plunging into the deep end

By Staff Sgt. Joshua Magbanua 633d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The 149th SOC, a unit of the 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), conducted drown-proofing training with assistance from the 86th Engineer Dive Detachment instructors. The training event intended to help Soldiers build confidence when having to jump into the water during emergencies.

Before splashing in, the Soldiers carried a training weapon in their hands and a pack on their back. The packs are designed to float, serving as a lifesaver.

“Lord Jesus! Someone pray for me,” said Private 1st Class Ramon Tucker, a cargo specialist with the 149th Seaport Operations Company.

Tucker stared at the water, trying not to buckle under the weight of his pack and the pressure of his comrades as they egged him to take the plunge.

“Come on, jump in,” yelled an instructor. “You ain’t gonna drown; we got you!”

As Tucker fought off the paralyzing anxiety, some of his teammates began to chant his name.
“Tucker, Tucker, Tucker… come on!”

Sgt. James Barnes, 149th SOC senior crane operator, led the training event. He explained that learning how to stay calm and stay afloat can mean the difference between life and death.

“This helps Soldiers acclimate to the aquatic environment and may ultimately save them from drowning,” said Barnes. “To be successful in this training, you need to be patient, calm and knowledgeable in proper techniques.”

The U.S. Army maintains a large fleet of watercraft with which Soldiers deploy around the world to serve the military’s logistical needs. Therefore, learning water survival skills is a must for Barnes and his colleagues in the Army’s maritime mission.
“I think everyone should know how to swim,” said Barnes. “It teaches you to keep your head above the water, and you would have a better chance of survival in an emergency.”

Tucker was the last of his teammates to plunge into the deep end of the pool. He gradually overcame his fear and opted to dip into the pool instead of jumping. With the help of his instructors, he complete the given task and jumped the second time around.

“It really does help knowing I have people around me to encourage me,” said Tucker. “For this training, you need courage and trust; trust that your gear will float like it’s supposed to. I look forward to doing more of this training and getting better at it—because we’re Soldiers … and we need to learn how to float and get out of tough situations.”
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