Health & Safety

July 26, 2012

MAWTS-1 gets own brand of water survival training

Lance Cpl. Sean Dennison
Desert Warrior Staff
Photos by Lance Cpl. Sean Dennison
Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 Marines oversee each others’ safety during the squadron’s water survival training at Lake Martinez, July 20. “We’re exempt from annual water survival training, so we need some experience in and around the water,” said Sgt. James Gendron, a MAWTS-1 flight equipment mechanic. “Even if it is on Jet Skis or paddle boats.”

Being the uniformed members of Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 are nondeployable, they’re exempt from water survival training qualifications.

Seeking to remedy this, MAWTS-1 commissioned Arizona Adventures to help them do their own brand of water survival training at Lake Martinez, July 20.

Arizona Adventures, which falls under Marine Corps Community Services’ Semper Fit program, provided MAWTS-1 with Jet Skis, inner tubes, boats, trampolines, paddle boats and more so the Marines could practice water safety.

“We don’t do anything cohesive like this due to our work schedule,” explained Sgt. Maj. Michael Parks, the MAWTS-1 sergeant major and a native of El Paso, Texas. “We don’t do water survival training, so this is to get everyone in the water and refresh their training.”

“What we’re hoping to do is boost the morale of the Marines so they’ll want to come back,” added Adrian Villalobos, the Semper Fit director. “It’s all about providing healthy, recreational activities.”

The Marines arrived at the lake early in the morning. MCCS owns a piece of the land that is used for military-only recreation.

Though MAWTS-1’s overall work tempo rarely drops below that of presto, the Marines focused their usual high energy not on supporting training operations but on having as much fun as physically possible in the Lower Colorado River.

“It was boatloads of fun,” said Sgt. James Gendron, a MAWTS-1 flight equipment mechanic and a native of Foley, Ala. “We’re exempt from annual water survival training, so we need some experience in and around the water. Even if it is on Jet Skis or paddle boats.”

The aquatic excursion also focused on camaraderie and Marines helping each other. Gendron explained that when the Marines were learning how to use the jet skis, the last Marine to learn would teach the oncoming Marine.

“It was great just being in the water,” said Pfc. Brandon Ponyah, a MAWTS-1 videographer and a native of Flagstaff, Ariz. “I liked seeing the people I work with have fun, and to see their fun side.”

Indeed there was few, if any, frowning that day, and if there was it was just because someone had to wait to use a Jet Ski.

For more information about Arizona Adventures and how they can help organize a morale-boosting event, contact them at (928) 269-2848 or visit and look under the recreation tab.


A Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 Marine displays excitement during the squadron’s water surivival training at Lake Martinez, July 20.

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