Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Getting back to basics here . . . S.L.

The will to survive is defined as the desire to live despite seemingly insurmountable mental and(or) physical obstacles. The tools for survival are furnished by the military, the individual, and the environment. The training for survival comes from survival training publications, instruction, and the individuals own efforts. But tools and training are not enough without a will to survive. In fact, the records prove that "will" alone has been the deciding factor in many survival cases. While these accounts are not classic examples of "how to survive," they illustrate that a single-minded survivor with a powerful will to survive can overcome most hardships. There are cases where people have eaten their belts for nourishment, boiled water in their boots to drink as broth, or have eaten human flesh - though this certainly wasn't their cultural instinct.

One incident where the will to survive was the deciding factor between life and death involved a man stranded in the Arizona desert for 8 days without food and water. He traveled more than 150 miles during searing daytime temperatures, losing 25 percent of his body weight due to the lack of water (usually 10 percent loss causes death). His blood became so thick that the lacerations he received could not bleed until he had been rescued and received large quantities of water. When he started on that journey, something must have clicked in his mind telling him to live, regardless of any obstacles which might confront him. And live he did - on guts and will alone!

Let's flip a coin and check the other side of "will." Our location is the Canadian wilderness. A pilot ran into engine trouble and chose to deadstick his plane onto a frozen lake rather than punch out. He did a beautiful job and slid to a stop in the middle of the lake. he left the aircraft and examined if for damage. After surveying the area, he noticed a wooded shoreline only 200 yards away where food and shelter could be provided - he decided to go there. Approximately halfway there, he changed his mind and returned to the cockpit of his aircraft where he smoked a cigar, took out his pistol, and blew his brains out. less than 24 hours later a rescue team found him. Why did he give up? Why was he unable to survive? Why did he take his own life? On the other hand, why do people eat their belts or drink broth from their boots? No one really knows, but it’s all related to the will to survive.

from Air Force Regulation 64-4 Search & Rescue SURVIVAL TRAINING Vol 1



  1. I won't judge anybody who chooses to smoke a cigar the moment they become stranded.

  2. You may have never heard the story but look up Hugh Glass, a fur trapper in the 1800's. He is a perfect example of will to survive. A quick summary: he was mauled by a bear and left to die by his companions. He had to crawl and eventually walk 200 miles before reaching any help.

  3. As a former USAF survival instructor, I concur with what you have posted.

    Paul L. Quandt

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