Cadets Chaffin and Cherry begin a fire using a flint and a cotton ball.
On Nov. 2 and 3, cadets from the Dyer County High School JROTC had the opportunity to put two weeks of instruction together in an overnight survival scenario. NCOs from the Tennessee National Guard were asked to be guest lecturers on the topic of survival and provide the cadets with a live scenario that would teach the cadets how to stay overnight if a situation presented itself. The NCOs, MSG Hardy and SFC Chris West, took several days to instruct the cadets on different techniques on water purification, how to build a fire, and how to build a shelter from items from a survival kit that the cadets were instructed to build from items at their homes.
The cadets learned much from this course as the instruction progressed. First, they were instructed on building a survival kit and the importance of keeping it with you when traveling or going out on your own or in small groups. They had a list of about three pages to select from to build their survival kits. They were instructed to keep the duplication of items to a minimum, in other words select items that could serve two or more purposes. Second, they were instructed on the art of building a fire. Many can build a fire, but keeping it maintained and going is the key. Third, the cadets were instructed on how to build a shelter from articles they could find from home. Plastic bags taped together make for a great makeshift shelter. However, the cadets used tarps as well and did a great job putting them together to house several cadets under the same shelter. Finally, they were instructed on how to purify water using several techniques. The best method is to boil the water for at least a minute, but this can be difficult if you are in a situation where building a fire is difficult and to keep it going to allow you to boil the water.
Cadets Warren, Beasley, Hunter, and Kobilka are instructed by MSG Hardy on water purification.
Once the cadets got to the site (the Milan Training Facility) for the survival training they were given the scenario and were told that the first priority was to build a shelter from their survival kit. The cadets arrived at the site at 4:45 p.m. and were instructed that they had to have their shelter up by dark, which would quickly approach at 6:30 p.m. All the shelters were up by 6 p.m. and the cadets were ready for dinner, a Meal Ready to Eat (MRE in the military vernacular). The cadets were given their meals and instructed that would be all the food they would receive until they left for home. After eating dinner, the cadets were instructed on the use of night-vision goggles, both thermal sights and night-vision sights. The cadets were amazed at the clarity of the sights and what you could see in the dark with these sights.
The cadets were then instructed to conduct skits within their teams on some facet of survival. The cadets did a great job demonstrating different methods of survival during the skits. This helped all of the cadets to realize the importance of survival and thinking through the situation you are in. The cadets were then instructed to go to their shelters at 10 p.m. as they would have to be ready for further instruction by 7:30 a.m. on Saturday. The cadets were focused as they began to get up as they were able to be divided into the teams necessary and be ready for the training at 7:30 a.m. The training the cadets received was conducted again by the Tennessee National Guard as the cadets rotated four different stations: signaling when in a survival situation, building and maintaining a fire, purifying water, and first aid. After the round-robin training was complete the cadets completed teardown of the site and were soon ready for departure.
SFC West of the Tennessee National Guard, instructs a squad of DCHS Cadets on how to signal using different methods.
The cadets learned during this course life skills that will prevent them from becoming victim to a situation if they take the precautions taught them during this course. The cadets are excited about this opportunity and are already asking questions about the possibility of conducting the more advanced training in the future. MSG Hardy and SFC Chris West did a super job both in the classroom environment and in the field environment as well, and stated they would be glad to work with the JROTC program in the future if we could work the more difficult course into the next semester.