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Warrior exercise integrates USAF, U.S. Marine search, rescue mission

  • Published
  • By Airman Miranda A. Loera
  • 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Exercise Coronet Warrior 17-01 tested the abilities of 4th Fighter Wing members to complete contingency operations at an "overseas location" over the course of two days.

Members of Seymour Johnson AFB and Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, completed a simulated rescue mission during CW 17-01 after a simulated crash of an F-15E Strike Eagle. 

U.S. Air Force Capts. Steve Keck and Cody Williams, 336th Fighter Squadron pilot and weapon systems officer respectively, acted as the downed aircrew from the simulated crash. Their goal was to give rescue crews a precise location to conduct rescue procedures. The aircrew were able to use a field for cover while awaiting a rescue within an hour.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua Krape, 4th Operational Support Squadron survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialist, was the lead organizer for the mission.

“The objective for this exercise was to test [the aircrew members'] SERE skills,” Krape said. “We wanted to see if the members knew what to do after a crash, and if they could get the proper rescue from the allied team. Also, we were throwing opposing forces at them and seeing if they could stay hidden while waiting for help to arrive.”

Two Strike Eagles from SJAFB, and a UH-1Y Venom and an AH-1W Super Cobra from MCAS New River were tasked to find the downed aircrew. In addition, the Airmen worked together to neutralize simulated threats as part of the combat search and rescue team.

The team on the ground coordinated with all aircraft to ensure a successful rescue. After the members were found, it was the rescue team’s job to authenticate the rescued participant’s identity.

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Daniel Fitzgerald, a Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269 crew chief, was one of the participants in the rescue portion of the training exercise, providing not only the ability to test SERE capabilities but also an opportunity for joint training between the sister services.

“The scenario involved an F-15E crew [going] down over enemy territory, and our unit was on call for tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel, or TRAP,” Fitzgerald said. “When we got the call that an aircraft went down, we started our planning process and prepared our aircraft, and from there, we took off and executed the mission.”

According to Fitzgerald, training in a joint environment allows them to not only practice proper procedures and gain confidence and familiarization with those procedures and equipment, but it also helps work out the minor differences between the services, so they can make sure everything works well if a real-world situation arises.

“It’s important to have training scenarios like this, especially for our young Marines who are getting to practice TRAP for the first time,” Fitzgerald added. “We’ve been able to practice internally, but it’s never as effective as when we get to train with other [branches]. This [exercise] went way better than any other training mission I’ve done before.”