BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
Airmen with the 2nd Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment flight line section work around the clock to revise, equip and maintain modules designed to bring aircrew back home in case of survival situation.
Survival modules are a self-sustaining lifeline designed provide the aircrew with 72-hours of supplies and tools needed to survive in any environment around the globe until the members are rescued.
“Them surviving long enough to be rescued can be dependent upon how well I do my job,” said Airman 1st Class Matthew Ford, 2nd OSS AFE apprentice. “We pack both survival and first aid items in the kit one said item is the search and rescue beacon without that it would be difficult to know where the aircraft went down and who might have gone down with it.
Barksdale’s unique global mission set challenges AFE Airmen to pack more items in to the survival module than other bases making with more specific mission sets.
“You go to some other bases, and they prepare for a desert environment, cold environment or wet environment,” said Staff Sgt. Clayton Riegle, 2nd OSS AFE craftsman. “The challenge is getting all that equipment to fit in our bomber survival module kit. With our global reach and our mission set we need to be prepared and make sure our aircrew has everything they need for all types of environments so that in their worst day we can have their backs.”
Items packed into the survival module are not used as supplies to ration; the items are carefully it’s a self-sustaining system.
“You have other survival components in there from a medical module that has your tourniquet and gauze to a survival module that has your flashlight, snare wire, hunting knife, and then you have emergency water. It has everything that aircrew will need to stay alive as long as needed.” Riegle added.
Packing survival modules is not the only challenge AFE airmen face. Along with packing new kits, routine repairs are also needed to keep existing kits in circulation.
“Both the aircraft and the equipment we work with were manufactured in the 1960s,” Riegle said. “Since these units are no longer being manufactured, we have to maintain what we have to keep them sustainable. In addition to packing the units, we have the additional challenge to repair and refurbish the units we have here in-house.”
Once supplies are packed by AFE Airmen, the supplies are constantly monitored for functionality and expiration dates to ensure in the event of an emergency, the aircrew won't have to worry about its functionality.
“I believe what we do here directly contributes to the lethality of the mission and our aircrew,” Ford said. “We are here to give them the peace of mind, and enable them to fly their missions and know that if the worst were to happen, we have their backs by providing them necessary lifesaving tools crucial for survival and rescue. Ultimately, to get them back home safely.”
While the odds of aircrew having to use a survival module are minimal, AFE Airmen take pride in their mission and continually train, practice and inspect equipment vigorously. Each survival module packed can potentially be a life that is saved in the future.
“Not only do we save a life by bringing them down safely with the parachute we also sustain that member’s life from the moment they hit the ground to the moment they get picked up and brought back home,” Riegle added.