58th SOW pararescuemen save lost hiker


Verified SOF
Aug 18, 2007
San Antonio Texas
From the AF webpage, another good job by our PJ's:


8/5/2011 - KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) -- A helicopter crew and pararescuemen assigned to Kirtland Air Force Base recovered a hiker Aug. 1 who had been lost in Colorado since July 30.

The HH-60 Pave Hawk crew of four Airmen from Air Education and Training Command's 58th Special Operations Wing, and two pararescuemen from Detachment 1, 342nd Training Squadron, recovered Lashaye Westbrook, a 22-year-old from Farmington, N.M.

She had become separated from a group hiking near Pagosa Springs, Colo., and was reported missing at 5 p.m., Saturday. Local civil authorities were notified and assembled a group of approximately 50 people to search for her on the ground.

On Sunday, search coordination authorities requested support from the 58 SOW to help with one of their "Pave Hawk" helicopters. The first crew and pararescuemen launched from Kirtland Air Force Base at approximately 1:30 p.m.

Westbrook, dressed in shorts and a red top, had been reported missing in rugged terrain about 11 miles north of Pagosa Springs, Colo. The first crew conducted an airborne search for four hours before nightfall halted their efforts. They reported no sign of Westbrook during the search.

On Monday, a second helicopter crew was launched to relieve the first, arriving at 7:30 a.m. to rendezvous with the ground team and continue the search. At approximately 10:20 a.m., pararescueman Staff Sgt. Mark Houghton spotted a person on the ground, although her clothing didn't match the description they'd been given of Westbrook. The crew decided to make a closer investigation and after a few overhead passes, observed Westbrook waving a stick to let them know she was the one they were looking for.

Lt. Col. Brandon Deacon, the mission commander for this recovery, operated from a ground site near Pagosa Springs. Maj. Ryan Kay, the mission pilot, and Maj. Adam Rudolphi, the co-pilot, executed a precision hover in the steep terrain as the flight engineer, Master Sgt. Jamie Karmann, lowered a pararescueman, Staff Sgt. Scott Dowd, on the rescue hoist to retrieve Westbrook. Dowd secured the hiker to the hoist and Karmann lifted them up 180 feet to the helicopter, where pararescueman Houghton wrapped her in his jacket, assessed her for initial injuries, and gave her water. The 512th Rescue Squadron helicopter crew also included Tech. Sgt. Rick Casto, aerial gunner. After the recovery, the helicopter was just five minutes away from Stevens Airport, where the crew radioed ahead for an ambulance to provide medical treatment when they landed.

Westbrook was reported to be in good condition after being stranded for two days without shelter, food and water. During the ordeal, she also endured rain along with overnight low temperatures in the 40s. The recovery crew said she told them she was relieved, tired and cold, and just wanted to sleep.

Kirtland AFB is the home of Detachment 1, 342nd Training Squadron, the only pararescue training mission in the Air Force. The 24-week Pararescue Recovery Specialist Course includes field medical care and extrication basics, field tactics, mountaineering, combat tactics, advanced parachuting and helicopter insertion/extraction. With their medical and rescue expertise, pararescuemen are able to perform lifesaving missions in the world's most remote areas.

The mission of Air Education and Training Command's 58th SOW is to train mission-ready special operations, personnel recovery, missile site support, and UH-1 distinguished visitor airlift aircrews in direct support of air expeditionary forces for the world's best Air Force. They also respond to humanitarian missions like the successful mission they conducted in recovering Westbrook.

The pararescuemen are among the most highly trained emergency trauma specialists in the U.S. military and Kirtland AFB, N.M., is the home of the only pararescue training mission in the Air Force. With their medical and rescue expertise, along with their deployment capabilities pararescuemen are able to perform life-saving missions in the world's most remote areas.

Way to go PJ's. You guys rock. It was my privilege to spend the first six years of my 20 year career at Kirtland AFB. Though I didn't know any PJ's personally, their reputations as some of the Air Force's finest were well known.

That others may live!