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31 FW Airmen perform SERE combat survival training

31 FW Airmen perform SERE combat survival training

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Ashton Cleveland, 555th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, pours water into his Meal, Ready-to-Eat while evading opposition forces during a combat survival training (CST) scenario at Cansiglio, Italy, April 15, 2021. Cleveland undertook the role of a downed pilot in enemy territory during the CST, practicing evading capture by taking refuge in shrubs, tree branches and different shelters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)

31 FW Airmen perform SERE combat survival training

Members from the 56th Rescue Squadron hoist U.S. Air Force Capt. Alex Lodge, 555th Fighter Squadron department of scheduling officer in charge, into an HH-60 Pave Hawk during a combat survival training scenario at Cansiglio, Italy, April 15, 2021. Lodge was one of four simulated downed pilots in enemy territory, evading opposition forces and practicing survival skills while waiting for recovery. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)

31 FW Airmen perform SERE combat survival training

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Ashton Cleveland, 555th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, initiates a MK-124 flare during a combat survival training scenario at Cansiglio, Italy, April 15, 2021. The flare is a smoke and illumination flare used to signal search and rescue personnel in the event of an emergency or extraction situation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)

31 FW Airmen perform SERE combat survival training

U.S. Air Force Capt. Alex Lodge, 555th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, initiates a MK-124 flare during a combat survival training (CST) scenario at Cansiglio, Italy, April 15, 2021. The MK-124 is intended for day or night signaling by personnel downed at sea or on land. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)

31 FW Airmen perform SERE combat survival training

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Monroe Dauwalder, 56th Rescue Squadron HH-60 Pave-Hawk pilot, left, and U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Ashton Cleveland, 555th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, walk through the forest to a checkpoint during a combat survival training (CST) scenario at Cansiglio, Italy, April 15, 2021. Four 31st Fighter Wing pilots recertified on CST procedures to maintain their combat mission readiness and prepared to utilize those skills in an emergency situation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)

31 FW Airmen perform SERE combat survival training

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Ashton Cleveland, 555th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, left, and U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Monroe Dauwalder, 56th Rescue Squadron HH-60 Pave-Hawk pilot, communicate with F-16 Fighting Falcons during a combat survival training scenario at Cansiglio, Italy, April 15, 2021. During the training, Cleveland and Monroe identified and located potential threats for the recovery forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)

31 FW Airmen perform SERE combat survival training

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Monroe Dauwalder, 56th Rescue Squadron HH-60 Pave-Hawk pilot, waits for recovery forces during a combat survival training (CST) scenario at Cansiglio, Italy, April 15, 2021. Dauwalder was one of four participants of the CST, directed to evade opposition forces and get to a recovery point. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)

31 FW Airmen perform SERE combat survival training

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Ashton Cleveland, 555th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, gets ‘captured’ during a combat survival training (CST) scenario at Cansiglio, Italy, April 15, 2021. During the CST, Cleveland and other participants recertified on survival procedures to maintain combat mission readiness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)

31 FW Airmen perform SERE combat survival training

Tech. Sgt. Dylan Sedillo, 31st Operational Support Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape training, right, utilizes personnel recovery spins to authenticate U.S. Air Force Capt. Michael Loh, 555th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, during a combat survival training scenario at Cansiglio, Italy, April 15, 2021. Loh a downed pilot in enemy territory during the CST, using learned skills to evade capture and escape from captivity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)

31 FW Airmen perform SERE combat survival training
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An HH-60 Pave Hawk prepares to rescue personnel at Cansiglio, Italy, April 15, 2021. The HH-60 rescued four ‘downed pilots’ in enemy territory during a combat survival training scenario. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)

31 FW Airmen perform SERE combat survival training
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U.S. Air Force Capt. Alex Lodge, 555th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, looks out of an HH-60 Pave Hawk after a combat survival training (CST) scenario at Cansiglio, Italy, April 15, 2021. Each pilot undertakes CST training every three years and included practicing survival skills, evading capture, and using techniques to escape from captivity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy --

Each step taken could be the one that reveals their position, so they must remain vigilant. They need to reach a clearing where they can be safely evacuated by recovery forces. All their training has culminated in this moment.

Four 31st Fighter Wing pilots recertified on Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) combat survival training (CST) procedures to maintain their combat mission readiness April 15, at Cansiglio, Italy. The training is re-accomplished every three years for each pilot and includes practicing survival skills, evading capture and using techniques to escape from captivity.

“We provided them a scenario where they were simulated ‘downed pilots’ in enemy territory and opposition forces looked for them to try to capture them,” said Tech. Sgt. Dylan Sedillo, 31st Operational Support Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) training.”

Sedillo said the focus for the CST was to identify all the threats pilots can encounter in a real-life event and prepare them on how to respond to those threats.

At the start of the training each pilot received a survival vest, coordinates to a recovery point, and a time limit. In between each checkpoint along the way the pilots put their evasion skills to the test, taking refuge in shrubs, tree branches and different shelters to avoid their persistent pursuit.

“At the end of the CST, F-16 Fighting Falcons communicated with the pilots via radio and identified potential threats for the recovery forces,” said Sedillo. “Once cleared, the helicopter hoisted the pilots up and tested their knowledge on hoist procedures.”

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Ashton Cleveland, 555th Fighter Squadron F-16 pilot and one of the simulated ‘downed pilots’, said he thinks it’s important to get hands-on training with the gear that isn’t used every day.

“This has been combat tested in real life many times and many pilots have had to use this training,” said Clevelend. “It's good to refresh our memories on what our survival tactics are, how we're going to evade and how to get rescued from enemy territories because it just might save our life one day.”