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37th CS wins 3rd-straight DoD-level Award

By James Coburn | 37th Training Wing Public Affairs | Nov. 17, 2006

Lackland Air Force Base, Texas — Standing outdoors in front of gorgeous mountains, the Air Force NCO says, "This is my office, and I'm getting paid for this. It's definitely the coolest thing out there."

It's the conclusion of a recruiting video for SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) instructors that was shot in mountains near Spokane, Wash., by a team from Lackland's 37th Communications Squadron.

The video won first place for 2004-05 at the Air Force level, then the 37th CS recently was presented the first-place trophy at the DoD level for the recruiting category. In fact, it's the third-straight time the 37th CS has won the DoD's first-place trophy in this category.

All three winning videos have supported Air Force efforts to recruit applicants to critical career fields. The 2003-04 video was to recruit military training instructors; the 2002-03 winner was to recruit pararescue/combat controller applicants. Visual information production awards are presented every 18 months rather than annually.

"That's really a big feat," said John Bender, chief of the 37th CS Support Flight. "That kind of consistency at the DoD level - it's just pretty amazing that we could sweep that category, basically a three-peat for the recruiting category."

Mr. Bender said 37th CS Producer/Director Steve Ninotta was the editor for all three videos.

Mr. Ninotta said the videos were team efforts, pointing out that the trophies name the 37th CS, not a single individual. The trophies resemble Academy Award "Oscars."
Mr. Bender said that while the awards are good, the career fields they promote are "hard to fill and critical for the Air Force."

The SERE video, he said, "tries to pique the interest of the person who really likes the outdoor life and wants to do that as opposed to a desk job."

SERE instructors are shown as they teach aircrew members how to survive after a crash or after parachuting from a plane. It involves how to build a fire, rock climbing, rafting in rapids and finding food outdoors.

Mr. Ninotta said the video began with seven to eight months of pre-production work, including "a lot of coordination between us and the requesting authority, the (AETC) SERE folks, who came down from Randolph."

Mr. Ninotta and a cameraman spent a week at the SERE Schoolhouse, Fairchild AFB, Wash., shooting interviews with SERE instructors and dipping into video footage of Tech. Sgt. Placante from Fairchild's communication center. Mr. Ninotta said a good 80 percent of the four-minute video's imagery is by Sergeant Placante.

"We also went down to Florida (Pensacola NAS) for a week and took footage of training that takes place there," Mr. Ninotta said of teaching how to survive a crash or parachuting into water.

The video then was melded together, and action-packed percussion music added, during about 200 hours of production and editing work in 37th CS studios at Lackland, Mr. Ninotta said.

It recently was added to the SERE Web site. It can be viewed at http://www.gosere.com/videos/sere-training-video.htm.