MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT -- The Sailors at the Aviation Survival Training Center aboard Cherry Point, train personnel to be confident and ready for the worst case scenario.
When Petty Officer 1st Class Wayland Wenschlag, an aviation water survival instructor with the Cherry Point ASTC begins a course, he holds all of his students to the same standard.
“Increased survivability is all about comfort in the water,” said Wenschlag. “There’s no worse feeling than watching a student fail, and no better feeling than having 100 percent pass. I could only imagine it’s like watching your kids graduate school.”
Wenschlag begins the two-day course by putting the Marines in the low-pressure chamber. The chamber reduces oxygen and gives the Marines a chance to feel the signs of hypoxia. Hypoxia is caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain; which reduces the ability of basic motor functions and can cause temporary blindness. Day one also consists of first-aid, rescue techniques and equipment survival methods.
Day two is spent in the water. Marines are taught to find reference points in the aircraft to find their way out in an underwater emergency. They learn survival breast strokes and conclude the course in a machine known as “The Dunker.”
The Dunker a mock aircraft body which dunks into the water and Marines, Sailors and students need to escape from. This training is carefully monitored by the course instructors.
Wenschlag said Marines are required to go through the course every four years in order to stay up-to-date with training and standards.