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SERE reaches new milestone with largest graduating class

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Lawrence Sena
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

The 336th Training Group held a graduation ceremony for its largest Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Specialist Apprentice Course December 18, 2021 with an all-time high of 44 graduates.

Before becoming SERE specialists, candidates go through a strenuous six-month training pipeline where average class sizes begin with 40 candidates, however this class began with 60, the largest to date.

“SERE Specialist Class 22-01 displayed great flexibility and resiliency to overcome the incredible challenges that come with the rigors of the course,” said Senior Master Sgt. Brian Smith, 66th Training Squadron commandant. “Their efforts and teamwork lead to them becoming one of the largest graduating classes in the history of the schoolhouse, and I’m also especially proud of the cadre who were flexible and provided these men and women training throughout.”

Graduating the largest SERE specialist course marks the 336th TRG’s second milestone in 2021. In January, the 336th TRG graduated its most successful class ever, with an attrition rate of just 7 percent.

“Our goal as a cadre force is to train these guys to the best of our ability,” said Staff Sgt. Richard Ferer, 66th TRS SERE instructor and cadre. “When starting out, our trainees come from all walks of life, and there is a very fast growth spurt that they need to go through in order to come together as a team. No one makes it through our pipeline as an individual.”

A SERE specialist’s mission is to provide personnel, whose duties may put them at a higher risk of isolation, with the skills and confidence to return with honor.

“As far as their prerequisites, they go through every environmental phase and learn their core survival skills,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Rodriguez, 66th TRS SERE instructor and cadre. “They progress building upon those skills, and incorporate them so they can teach their students from experience on how to survive and execute tasks in any environment.”

The Air Force is the only military branch that has a career field solely dedicated to SERE training. SERE Specialists are responsible for providing everything from arctic and water survival to pre-deployment and search and rescue training throughout the Department of Defense.

“I think the students should be proud of what they accomplished to this point, but one of the things that is unique to the SERE Specialist career field is not ever settling for what you’ve accomplished and always looking for an opportunity to improve yourself and your peers,” Smith said. “So I hope they look at this as an opportunity to continue to grow, not the end of the journey, but just the beginning of something new.”