Videos: Today's Military

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Melissa Dixon: Being a Rescue Swimmer is important to me because I like to help people. We stand at 24-hour alert, weekdays and weekends. Stand alert for the jets on the base, and also for any emergency in our area of responsibility.

My name is Melissa Dixon, I'm a 2nd Class Petty Officer in the United States Navy. And an Aviation Rescue Swimmer.

Right now, I'm stationed at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, which is in Oak Harbor, WA, for station search and rescue for the Olympic Mountain Ranges, and the Cascade Mountain Ranges in the area. And also, the surrounding bays and oceans in that area.

As a Rescue Swimmer, my core responsibilities are to help anyone that's in distress, people will get themselves in a predicament, or they're put in a predicament where they need help, and we go help them.

So first, to be an Aviation Rescue Swimmer, you need to join the Navy. Then meet your administrative requirements to be a Rescue Swimmer, which would be flight physical, volunteer to fly, and the proper ASVAB score. And you can talk to a Navy recruiter on specifics for the requirements.

The process for becoming an Aviation Rescue Swimmer? Just talk to your recruiter. He'll make sure you have all your requirements for getting in, joining, and then meeting the requirements for Rescue Swimmer. And then once you're in boot camp, you'll go into what they call dive motivator, and then they'll get you physically ready for [SAR?] school, and air crew school.

Our evaluations that we get are part of our advancement. Also, awards, we can get awards for being really good at our job, getting rescues, volunteer work, things like that.

Japan, Hawaii, California, Virginia, Florida. You can be stationed anywhere in the world, depending on what type of platform you're in.

Qualities that are good for a rescue swimmer to have would be physically fit. We do a lot of things, we do tons of swimming. So, lots of endurance. Being able to carry people, being able to be out in the elements for longer than you usually would be. If someone needs help, and they can't help themselves, I'm there, and I can help them, and get them home safe, and put myself in danger so that they can get home to their families, and our motto is, "So Others May Live." And that's very important to us.

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