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Davis-Monthan Airmen en-route to rescue injured sailors in Pacific Ocean

  • Published
  • By Maj. Sarah Schwennesen
  • ANGEL THUNDER Public Affairs
The 563rd Rescue Group (RQG) deployed two Combat King II aircraft, three HH-60 Pavehawk helicopters and ten Guardian Angel Personnel today, with 38 Airmen from the 48th, 79th and 55th Rescue Squadrons (RQS), to rescue two critically injured sailors aboard a Venezuelan fishing boat in the Pacific Ocean.

This morning Airmen boarded a 79th RQS Combat King II, for a six hour flight that will take them over 1,100 nautical miles off the coast of Mexico. Pararescuemen will parachute near the vicinity of the ship, with two inflatable zodiac boat packages and medical equipment, to stabilize the sailors.

At 5 p.m. on 2 May, the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) received a request for assistance from a Venezuelan fishing vessel that recovered badly burned sailors from a Chinese fishing vessel that had sunk. The 563 RQG identified crews to begin crew rest and started mission planning for the challenging rescue mission.

The HH-60 helicopters will hoist the sailors and pararescuemen from the ship, and transport them to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where they will be loaded onto Combat King II aircraft for the flight to the La Jolla Burn Facility in California.

The 161st Aerial Refueling Wing of the Arizona Air National Guard in Phoenix, Ariz., launched a KC-135 Stratotanker on short notice, to provide fuel for the lengthy mission. The tanker enabled the Combat King II and Guardian Angel Teams to proceed directly to the vessel in order to provide lifesaving care.

The mission is being controlled by the 563rd RQG Operations Center, located at Davis-Monthan AFB. "The Operations Center is essential to executing missions safely and effectively. We can gather the pertinent information on medical needs of patients, flight monitor, coordinate with country teams, in addition to command and controlling of rescue assets," said Col. Sean Choquette, 563rd RQG Commander.

While operational crews were in crew rest, maintainers hurried to prepare five aircraft for this mission. Special Mission Aviators from the 55th and 79th RQS, and pararescuemen from the 48th RQS, identified and packed necessary equipment, prior to performing pre-flight inspections for this mission.