Story and Photo by
2nd Lt. Kyle Suchomski
65th Engineer Battalion Public Affairs, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Soldiers took the plunge in a series of tests designed to assess their swimming abilities, at Richardson Pool, here, Sept. 30.
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 65th Engineer Battalion, 130th Eng. Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, participated in what is known as Combat Water Survival Training, or CWST, which not only improves Soldiers’ confidence in the water, but also teaches them how to stay afloat and survive in a real-world situation.
“I thought the training was great,” said Spc. Donald Thompson, operations, HHC. “It showed me that I’m not just going to sink like a rock in an emergency situation.”
CWST is a great opportunity for Soldiers to learn and practice important waterborne skills.
For this training, engineers donned their Army Combat Uniforms, carried a rubber M16 rifle and attempted four CWST tasks. Tasks included swimming 25 meters with a weapon, treading water for two minutes, jumping off the high dive while blindfolded and removing gear while in the pool.
For many in the group, this instruction was the first time they had participated in such training.
Spc. Freddie Cook, HHC, was a little apprehensive about the training and made it clear that he was “definitely not a water person,” but after some coaxing from his fellow Soldiers, he jumped into the pool and began swimming.
“I thought I was going to hate doing this,” Cook said, “but really, I had a lot of fun.”
Soldiers discovered that their individual body armor, or IBA, which weighs almost 25 pounds, would actually keep them afloat in the water. Much to the amazement of the other Soldiers, Pfc. Jesse Johnson, HHC, demonstrated how his IBA would keep him above water for a sustained period of time.
“I thought for sure that the thing would drag him down,” said 2nd Lt. Marshall Farmer, HHC, “but sure enough, the IBA kept him up.”
Although the training instilled new confidence in the Soldiers, it also gave leaders an opportunity to see who was or was not a strong swimmer.
“I’ll definitely tell my weaker swimmers to be extra careful at the beach,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Lentz, HHC. “If it weren’t for this training, I’d have had no idea (who they were).”
The training was both informative and entertaining, and Soldiers of the 65th Eng. Bn. are looking forward to trying it again.