TAC Sea Survival School @ Langley AFB, VA and Homestead AFB, FL.
By Paul Swindell
This article is dedicated to and in the memory of the airman who gave so much in training our aircrew members on how to survive at sea. I donít know where
they are now but Iím sure that the aircrews who went down at sea or land and made it back said thank you for the training that the Air Force provided.
In August 1962 the TAC Sea Survival School was started by one Life Support Officer Maj Wayne E. Williams, and six Life Support personnel (922X0) Jack
V. Messina, †Maurice Ouzts, James W. Stanford, Donald Parker, Paul Swindell and Warren G. Quade .† By January 1964 the school had grown to two
officers, nine 922X0ís, five 921X0ís, twelve boat operators and two Admin personnel. Not too many people knew that 922X0ís helped start this school.
Below is a list of Langley AFB enlisted personnel that were assigned to setup the TAC Sea Survival School in April/May 1962. The two officers assigned
were Captain Wayne E. Williams, commandant of the school and later Captain Danton T. Sherwood.
Capt. Fred Ewing created the Air Forceís Sea Survival School as stated in the November 1963 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine on page 34.†
I would encourage people to read the following article which came out on the school in Popular Mechanics Magazine, dated November 1963, titled ďHOW
TO SURVIVE AT SEAĒ, page 112 by KEVIN BROWN.†† This article can be found on the Internet. This article tells what went on at the school day by day
during the course.
The school operated 5 days per week.† Monday and Tuesday was classroom instruction. The rest of the week was spent at the water training area and out in
the ocean with hands on instruction. The students watched a parachute jump demo using survival equipment that the student would fly with. Each student
performed a Parasail flight off the deck of schoolís converted LCM. Each student got to experience time in several types of life rafts using the survival gear in
their survival kits. †††
On Feb. 1st 1963, Hq. TAC sent four 922X0ís (we all volunteered) to attend Army Airborne school at Ft Benning, GA., SSGT James W. Stanford, TSGT
Maurice Ouzts, SSGT Paul Swindell, and† A1C Warren G. Quade.† As far as I know and I have checked the best I could, we were the only 922X0 to attend
the school at that time.† We all completed the school and it changed our AFSC to (P922X0). TSGT Ouzts and SSGT Paul Swindell became Jump Master
Qualified on 19 February 1964. The other two became Jump Masters at a later date. Upon completion of school, we joined the P921ís demonstrating over
water jumps in full survival gear each week for the students
In the off season, we would travel to ANG and Reserve units on staff visits with HQ TAC. We would also, while at the units, hold classroom instructions on
the use of their survival equipment. Some days we would travel to Fort Lee, VA and work with the Army making night and tree jumps.† Sometime the night
jumps turned into tree jumps without the special gear we would normally wear for these types of jumps.† We spent some time in the Army parachute shop
learning to pack chutes. I donít think any of us ever jumped with the parachutes we helped pack. We also performed jumps at Langley AFB on special open
house events. Our time in the off season was also spent improving lesson plans, painting the boats and making improvements to our training areas. Some of us
completed a Scuba Diving School, attended the Basic Tropic Survival Course given by The Tropic Survival School, USAFSOUTHCOM, Albrook AFB,
Canal Zone. ††††
HOMESTEAD AFB, FLA.
The TAC Sea Survival School moved to the 4550 School Sq. (Sea Survival) (TAC), Homestead, FL †somewhere around 10 November 1966. The following
named personnel that I can remember were transferred:
Major Wayne E. Williams
(Rescue and Survival Tech) SMGT William G. Leighton
(Rescue and Survival Specl)† SSGT Norman J. Turek, SSGT David Piper, SSGT James H. Collins, TSGT James Short
Pers Equip Specl,†† TSGT Donald L. Parker, SSGT Paul Swindell, SSGT James W. Stanford,† A1C Warren G. Quade, A3C James F. Windon,†
(Boat Master)†† Decator H. Austin, TSGT Clarence L. Lewey
(Marine Engineman) SSGT James Hurley, SSGT Marine Engineman, SSGT Robert D. Mclendon, A1C Wayne R. Niemetz
There are more personnel that were attached to the school at Homestead AFB, but Sgt Stanford and I canít come up with their names.†
Taken at TURKEY POINT a few miles from Homestead AFB, FL, at our training area.
Left to Right SSgt Paul Swindell, SMSgt William Leighton, Maj. Wayne Williams, (Student), SSgt James Stanford and TSgt Clarence L. Lewey
EACH STUDENT RECEIVED BOTH CERTIFICATES UPON COMPLETION OF TRAINING
These were KEY CHAINS given to each student who completed Training at HOMESTEAD on Friday afternoons.†† Many classes were given a dinner at
TURKEY POINT upon completion of training. This was done by the FLORIDA POWER AND LIGHT CO.
Belt Buckle we wore†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††††††††††††††††††††Insignia on our shirts
PRAEMONITI AC PARATI
FORWARNED & FOREARMED
The first TAC Sea Survival Conference was held at Langley AFB, VA (Article attached).† Arlen Rappe and Paul Swindell were given the task by Lt. Col
Theodore R. Harris and Maj. Fred B. Ewing, of HQís TAC, to design a picture representing Life Support.† I didnít know we didnít have one, so this is what
we came up with. The following picture is what was used at the conference.†
Between Dec. 1965 and Feb.1966 the first designed symbol depicting the mission and objectives of the Hq TAC Life Support System was used in the
planning phase of the TAC Life Support System Conference and was approved by General Riddle, Assistant Deputy for Operations, Headquarters, Tactical
In early 1965 at Langley AFB, the ďATLAS FILM CORPORATIONĒ made eight SEA SURVIVAL TRAINING FILMS at the school.†
Maj. Fred B. Ewing stated we had put through some 1300 crew members, 20 graduates had been forced to either bail out or ditch their aircraft at sea and
all managed to survive. 14 bailed out at sea in Viet Nam and credited training at Langley (Sea Survival School) with saving their lives.
Whoever designed this patch for Life Support did an outstanding job.
The school had a lot of history.† I only kept part of it.† Maj Wayne E. Williams has most of it and the last time I talked to him he was living in Miami, Fl.
working with Eastern Air Lines. Maj. Fred B. Ewing and Maurice Jim Ouzts had some but they are deceased. There families may have it.
Comments from Bob McElwain regarding Paulís account of the Sea Survival School
I asked Paul what LCM meant, why did the school move to Homestead AFB and where on Langley AFB was the school located? Below are his
LCM is a Landing craft the Navy used to take men from the larger boat to put them on the beach. I should have said (LCM 8). The front drops
down and you get off before you get shot. I know you have seen them in movies. We used it to Parasail off the deck.
We were told that moving to Homestead FL that we could operate 12 months per year and put through more crew members which we needed
to because of the war in NAM. We could also have a larger classroom and larger facilities at TURKEY POINT which we did.
At Langley we were at the boat dock next to the NCO Club, so you know where most people went after work. Our 1st class room was in the
housing area in front of the club for a while and then we moved up on the base next to Flt line until we moved to Homestead.