While 60 Marines and sailors took part in land navigation training at Camp Gonsalves, other Marines were learning water rescue techniques at the Futenma air station. Both exercises took place in Okinawa, Japan and these courses tested the Marines on both land and in water.
One scenario for the water rescue course had a Marine in the water panicking like he was drowning. While the Marine was “drowning” another Marine swam vigorously across the pool to put into practice his new water rescue technique he had just learned.
Several Marines learned water rescue procedures during the Marine survival advanced course at the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma 25-meter pool. Staff Sgt. Marques J. Johnson, a chief Marine Corps instructor for the advanced water rescue course had this to say:
The purpose of the Marine survival advanced course is to teach Marines how to save a drowning person. By the end of the training, we hope to instill confidence in the Marines not to hesitate to save someone if they’re drowning.
The advanced survival course lasts for a week and Marines go through rigorous water training and rescue maneuvers. Pfc. Bryan Garcia said this course was the hardest thing he has ever done in his life.
The Marines start the day during the course with 500 to 1000 meter free-style swim. Sometimes with each lap the Marines shed a layer of clothing until they are in just their training shorts. Then they practice underwater swimming, or “brick training” as it is known. It’s called brick training because they swim with bricks. After this they learn rescue techniques.
Once instructors feel Marines have the water rescue portion of the training down then they are tested to see how well they perform what they have learned. In the practical application portion of the testing the person that needs rescuing is an instructor in full combat uniform with a flak jacket, helmet and rifle.
The day ends for the Marines with water aerobics and a “massive physical training session of different swimming styles, such as U-boats, which is when one lays on one’s back with feet out of the water and swims by pushing the water behind them with their hands.”
“When I first came here, I thought (I) was just getting another swim qualification,” said Garcia. “I used to swim competitively before joining the Marine Corps, so I didn’t think it was going to be that hard, but it was definitely a challenge.”
This course is beneficial to all Marines, and the time and effort put into it may say someone’s life some day.
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