Sunday, September 22, 2019

Air Force Survival Training on Bayocean

On April 8, 2015, I was looking for a cadastral survey monument (see Rewitness Card #56 ) at the north end of Bayocean when I noticed red-striped plastic ribbons hanging from tree limbs. Following the flags from the ocean side to the bay side, I could not figure out their purpose. Cape Meares resident Robert (Ollie) Ollikainen later suggested they play a role in Air Force survival training held on the spit periodically. 

While researching to write Western Snowy Plover and Bayocean a month laterI learned that the Air Force had a contract with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department to hold survival training each spring and fall and found a CoastWatch report dated 9/13/03 by YaakovM that said:
On this Sunday through Thursday, Sept. 18th, the US Air   Force was conducting coastal survival training exercises. Saw four young soldiers building shelters out of driftwood, putting up rescue flags, and otherwise going through assigned tasks. On bay side of the spit, I saw several trucks, a bus, many tents, and equipment for the exercise noted above. The soldiers appeared to be doing no damage to the beach area and, from what I later learned, completely clean up the area when they're through.

When I called Paul Levesque, Chief of Staff for the Tillamook County Board of Commissioners, about this he said the Air Force notifies him when the training is scheduled, but it's not made public to avoid interference by observers because these are flight crews learning to hide behind enemy lines if their planes go down. This made me wonder if eyes were observing me while I was bushwhacking across the spit back in April. Perhaps I had inadvertently become part of their training. If so, they did well.

I happened upon the training in person while picking up garbage for SOLV on September 21st, 2019. A male soldier (one was female) inflating rafts at Crab Harbor waved permission to take photos. Their camp was at Kincheloe Point was empty. There were several boats near the end of the south jetty but I couldn't see what they were doing. Perhaps eyes hidden in the beach grass were observing me again. 

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