JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. —
The 437th Operations Support Squadron Weapons and Tactics flight has many jobs that are performed by dedicated Airmen to keep Joint Base Charleston's mission going.
The flight has Airmen from multiple different jobs including survival, evasion, resistance and escape course instructors, joint airdrop inspectors, and instructors who train pilots and loadmasters.
“The mission of the flight is to train Airmen from the wing in tactics,” said Master Sgt. Victor Wade, 437th OSS tactic superintendent. “That is just one piece of it. It's like an onion, you have to peel it back because there are several layers to it. There are other elements the flight is involved in such as being a part in all of the airdrop missions that happen on the base with the joint airdrop inspectors.”
Staff Sgt. Jacob Engle, a special operations low-level evaluator loadmaster assigned to the 437th OSS, is the first graduate of the advanced instructors course. The course is the loadmasters’ version of the Weapons Instructor Course attended by pilots. Capt. Haley Rickert, the deputy chief of Wing Weapons and Tactics, assigned to the 437th OSS, believes that the skills Engle was taught in AIC are very valuable and useful to the base.
“Engle not only helps the loadmasters development across the wing and loadmaster and JAI development within the shop, but he also reaches out and works hand-in-hand with the pilots to help develop training that the pilots can help focus their crews on as a whole,” she said. “He also teaches pilots loadmaster specifics as well as teaching loadmasters pilot specifics to help integrate the crew so they can work as a better team together. We have reached out to Engle many times to help us develop our training plans. He has been a huge help to tactics to say the least.”
Engle said that there are only eight graduates of AIC who work with the C-17 Globemaster III because it is a newer and more difficult course. He also said that the skills he learned in the AIC are very useful in the job he does now at JB Charleston.
“I utilize what I learned in the course by training pilots and loadmasters in major exercises and giving them tactical scenarios and complex problems to solve.” he said.
He added that graduating from the AIC was one of the greatest achievements he has had in his lifetime.
“I didn't even know I could do it,” he said. “I was kind of taken aback at how much work it actually was. It is honestly one of the things I am most proud of.”
Rickert explained that the JAIs play a large role in the air drop mission.
“The JAI shop is the bread and butter of the flight,” she said. “That's where a lot of the enlisted force comes in and they make up most of the shop. We have really great people as our JAIs. They are an important part in any sort of air drop because they are so involved in the process.”
Staff Sgt. Daniel Moore, a JAI assigned to the 437th OSS, explained the role of JAIs and why they are a vital part of safety when it comes to how equipment is set up on a plane.
“We perform inspections before the equipment is taken out to the airplane to confirm that the parachutes are connected to the equipment, the ties are properly rigged and routed, and we make sure there are no other potential rigging errors,” he said. “Our job is to look for errors that could cause a malfunction in the airdrop sequence. We also perform a final safety inspection with the loadmasters after they load the equipment onto the aircraft.”
According to Senior Airman Jerid Bauscher, a SERE specialist assigned to the 437th OSS, SERE specialists are a significant part of the flight and training in the Air Force.
“A SERE specialist's main responsibility on JB Charleston is to provide the air crew with their high risk of isolation personnel training that keeps them mission ready and able to fly globally around the world,” he said. “The training consists of six different training events throughout the span of one week per month.”
Bauscher said that when going through the SERE course, Airmen are trained on many important survival tactics such as local area survival, emergency parachute training, communication device training, combat survival training, water survival training, how to survive in an urban area and basic survival skills.
“I think that SERE is the most important training when it comes to the time you will actually need it,” Bauscher said. “We hope that no air crew is ever put in that situation but should they ever be faced with that situation where they need to survive, evade, resist or escape, they have a foundation that we give them and that they can rely on instead of having to figure it all out on the fly.”
Wade thinks that the Airmen in the flight are good and hard working Airmen and are vital to the mission.
“They are very strong as a flight,” he said. “They are experts in their field and individually which makes the group phenomenal. I can give them tasks and I know that it will get done when it needs to be done and it will be done properly the first time.”