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Getting to know Code of Conduct: Articles I-III

U.S. Staff Sgt. Jonathan Buchanan, 325th Operations Support Squadron non-commissioned officer in-charge of survival, evasion, resistance and escape (SERE) training, surveys a potential training area around Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., for Tyndall’s SERE program, Jan. 17, 2018.

U.S. Staff Sgt. Jonathan Buchanan, 325th Operations Support Squadron non-commissioned officer in-charge of survival, evasion, resistance and escape (SERE) training, surveys a potential training area around Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., for Tyndall’s SERE program, Jan. 17, 2018. The SERE specialists at Tyndall have the special duty of ensuring that all qualifying personnel keep their training up-to-date and refreshed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cody R. Miller)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Joseph Shamess cools off in the Little Coal River while performing Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training June 2, 2018 at Alum Creek, W.Va.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Joseph Shamess cools off in the Little Coal River while performing Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training June 2, 2018 at Alum Creek, W.Va. The Airmen completed a refresher version of the original SERE course, which is required every three years, to ensure that in case of emergency that they would have the competency to survive in numerous hostile conditions. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Airman 1st Class Caleb Vance)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua Krape, 4th Operations Support Squadron survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialist, demonstrates how to quickly create a shelter using the environment and a map during a combat survival training course, June 27, 2017, at Howell Woods, Four Oaks, N.C.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua Krape, 4th Operations Support Squadron survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialist, demonstrates how to quickly create a shelter using the environment and a map during a combat survival training course, June 27, 2017, at Howell Woods, Four Oaks, N.C. According to Krape, having a shelter that blends into the environment can keep downed aircrew alive when they are trapped behind enemy lines. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kenneth Boyton)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- A hard truth about war is that not every service member is going to make it back to friendly territory after a mission and may fall into the clutches of the enemy.

The United States Armed Forces established the Code of Conduct for service members evading capture, resisting enemy influence if captured and escaping enemy control August 17, 1955.

“The Code of Conduct is a summary of the important laws found in the Uniform Code of Military Justice,” said Tech. Sgt. David Jones, 20th Operations Support Squadron weapons and tactics non-commissioned officer in charge. “Officers and enlisted Airmen are bound to the Code of Conduct and the UCMJ as soon as they swear in.”

The first article of the Code of Conduct reads, “I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.”

The first article in the code of conduct provides a basic identity for service members to hold onto in the instance of attempted enemy exploitation.

The second article of the Code of Conduct reads, “I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.”

If a service member is surrounded and outnumbered they are not to throw away their lives. They are trained to return with honor.

The third article of the Code of Conduct reads, “If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.”

“As a pilot we will be flying over hostile territory and we might get shot down,” said 1st. Lieutenant Alex Trembly, 55th Fighter Squadron pilot. “Before pilots get to Shaw we had to go to SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) and live as a prisoner for a couple of days. Once we get here we have regular training with the SERE guys to keep the knowledge fresh.”

Prisoners of war have an obligation to their nation and their comrades to resist any enemy exploitation. If an opportunity to escape enemy control and return to friendly forces presents itself, service members should take it.

“Going back to the earliest wars in American history, people would forget what they are accountable to,” said Jones. “They might break those rules while imprisoned and the Code of Conduct provides rules and something to live by. We’ve made it simple for them to remember and to uphold.”

(For part II of "Getting to know Code of Conduct," click here.)