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Wisconsin Guard Soldiers Hone Water Survival, Rescue Skills

OSHKOSH, Wis. — Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers conducted combat water survival and swift water rescue training in the Fox River on Sept. 10.

The rigorous training prepared the Soldiers of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, to answer the call to aid in domestic operations whenever needed.

The event was the company’s first large-scale home station training with all Soldiers back together after many deployments and state missions over the past few years.

While on the water, Soldiers learned how to use a Zodiac watercraft and right it when capsized. They also trained to rescue people from a debris field in swift-moving water and identify and treat the victim’s injuries.

The Soldiers performed combat water survival training by treading water in full uniform, including combat boots, for five minutes, swimming 25 meters in full uniform and with a rifle.

“It is great to get back into the community where the National Guard belongs,” said Sgt. 1st Class Charles Hensen, readiness noncommissioned officer and platoon sergeant with Company A. “And to be hosting a domestic operations training event that prepares the Soldiers to use the equipment they could be using in a natural disaster so that we can remain true to our mission to serve our neighbors and the people of Wisconsin.”

Spc. Shane Kieslich received a challenge coin from Brig. Gen. Matthew Strub, Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant general for Army, for his efforts during the training.

“Command has been trying to switch things up and get us training we haven’t done before,” Kieslich said. “I’m not the best swimmer, so it was a little bit of a struggle, but I thought it was great and I think it really boosts the morale of the Soldiers in the unit.”

Command Sgt. Maj. Georgett Hall, senior enlisted advisor to Wisconsin’s adjutant general, shared that sentiment.

“Not only is this great training for their mission, but it’s also great for morale and retaining Soldiers because there are not a lot of units in the state doing events like this,” Hall said.

Strub said the event was about overcoming adversity and fear and forming a stronger bond as a unit.

“Having competition and building that camaraderie in small teams helps a team to gel and work together,” Strub said. “And then no matter what task they are given in the future, they are able to attack it that much better.”

By SSG Kati Volkman, Wisconsin National Guard

SSG Alice Ripberger contributed to this story.

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