Divers start careers on post Print E-mail
Wednesday, 13 November 2013
Army engineers tie their feet together before entering the water at Davidson Fitness Center during Phase I of dive school to become an Engineer Diver. The 14-day course covers the basics of diving. Phase II of the course is conducted at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center at Panama City, Fla.
Story and photo by Melissa Buckley
GUIDON staff
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Most people don’t associate diving with Fort Leonard Wood, but here in the Midwest, far from any ocean, Soldiers with the military occupational specialty of 12D Engineer Diver get their first dip in the water.  

“We test Soldiers’ resiliency and test their ability in the water. We identify Soldiers with the potential to pass Phase II of dive school in Florida,” said Staff Sgt. Samuel Winter, Engineer Diver Phase I Course, 169th Engineer Battalion instructor.  

The 14-day Phase I course is spent learning the basics of diving physics, gas laws, basic medicine and anatomy as well as charting basic dives in the classroom.

Each afternoon is spent at the Davidson Fitness Center pool learning to communicate with hand and line pull signals as well as breath holding drills. Students work up to treading water without the use of either their arms or legs.

“We are here to find Soldiers who are comfortable in the water. Sometimes they decide the stress and physical demands are too much for them. So, it saves time and money if they can drop and reclass while they are still on Fort Leonard Wood,” Winter said. “Most of our students come from Basic Combat Training in the 31st and 35th Engineer Battalions. That’s why this phase is on Fort Leonard Wood.”

Before Soldiers can leave for Phase II they have to be able to successfully complete the Diver Physical Fitness Test, consisting of a 500-yard swim, using the breast stroke or side stroke, in less than 14 minutes; a minimum of 42 Navy style push-ups in two minutes; 50 Navy style curl-ups in two minutes; six pull-ups in two minutes; and run 1.5 miles in less than 12 minutes and 45 seconds.  

Every year 160 Soldiers start Phase I, but only 25 to 35 will graduate.  

Staff Sgt. David Gills, Engineer Diver Phase I Course, 169th Engineer Battalion, chief instructor, described the engineer diver as a jack-of-all-trades.  

“We have to be able to do every engineer task — underwater. I’ve done everything from human remains recovery, building peers, raising sunken submarines, to working with the Corps of Engineers on dams and hurricane barriers. Not only do you have to have the physical ability to work in an underwater environment, you also have to be able to learn and use those skills quickly. You are on your own underwater. There is no one coming down to check your work. It’s your word as an engineer diver to say you’ve completed your job successfully. It’s a huge responsibility to put on, especially for a Soldier that has just graduated basic training,” Gills said.  

The graduates of the Diver Phase I Course continue training in Panama City, Fla., at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center for 26 additional weeks, when they will become part of a small and elite group of Soldiers — U.S. Army Deep Sea Divers.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 November 2013 )