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March 29, 2013

UofA Rugby puts mock “boots on the ground” with 55th RQS

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Senior Airman Saphfire Cook
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Staff Sgt. Josh Emerick, 55th Rescue Squadron, assists members of the University of Arizona rugby team with reading a map during a mock deployment hosted by the 55th RQS here March 16. For the mock deployment, the UofA rugby team was bused to a campsite behind the small arms range where they were split into groups and assigned to members of the 55th RQS, who acted as their team mentors. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Saphfire Cook)

University of Arizona rugby team members participated in a mock deployment hosted by the 55th Rescue Squadron here March 15-16.

The coach of the UofA rugby team, Dave Sitton, is the honorary commander for the 55th RQS. The two day event has become an annual community relations event hosted by the 55th RQS.

“This is our third time doing this event,” said 1st Lt. Christopher Allen, 55th RQS. “We are very involved with Dave and the team. We try to go to most of their home games as a unit, and we wanted them to be able to come on base, as a team, and get a feel for what we do.”

For the mock deployment, the team was bused to a campsite behind the small arms range where they were split into groups and assigned to members of the 55th RQS, who acted as their team mentors.

The first day consisted of a trip to the flightline and some group physical training, before the team headed back to the tents that were to be their homes for the night.

“It was really cool to see the C-5s,” said Joe Kunz, UofA rugby team scrumhalf. “This is my third time participating in this event, and I have so much fun each time. It’s such a team building environment. We get loads of good advice and every time I come there’s something new.”

Day two consisted of a search and rescue exercise. Each team used a GPS and a map to navigate their way to a fallen “victim” and return to home base, all while evading enemy patrols.

For roughly two hours the groups worked their way through cacti and rocks, sometimes lying flat in the brush to avoid detection by patrols.

Once each group returned to base camp, they broke for lunch. The exercise culminated in team and leadership building workshops.

“I have had so much fun hanging out with the guys from the 55th (RQS),” said James Thomas, UofA rugby team prop. “I’m from Wales, and now, when I go back home I can tell them about this awesome experience. I know no one over there is doing anything like this.”




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