Balad PJs, CSAR train so 'that others may live'

Ravage

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http://www.centaf.af.mil/news/story.asp?storyID=123117704

10/1/2008 - JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq -- Air Force Combat Search and Rescue assets spend countless hours training for a mission that they hope to never execute.

U.S. and coalition assets fly throughout the theater. The six pararescue jumpers, or PJs, deployed here from Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., are on alert 24/7 to respond to those in need.

"Our primary mission is combat search and rescue for all the Combined Forces Air Component commander's assets in Iraq," said Senior Master Sgt. Michael Fleming, 66th ERQS Guardian Angel Team leader. "Training is important because its helps us stay motivated and current, so we won't be caught by surprise when something happens."

Senior Airman Corey Farr, a San Diego native who received his PJ instructor upgrade during the training mission, stressed the importance of training in the deployed environment.

"We are constantly training and rehearsing the many adverse situations we might encounter during a rescue," said Farr. "Staying sharp on our skills and continuously training is important because our skills are perishable. Training ensures we know the proper methods of executing techniques, because if done improperly, it could prove to be fatal."

During a recent training mission, PJs practiced alternate infiltration and exfiltration, or AIE methods, because there are times when a helicopter cannot land. These AIE methods include air-land snatching, rope laddering, hoisting, fast roping or rappelling in and out of the helicopter.

"Training and working closely with the CSAR helicopter assets is an added benefit here because they are our main source of transportation to isolated personnel," said Farr.

"They provide an excellent training platform for us. We work congruently to help each other keep up on mandatory training items."

Members of the HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crews agree that training with the PJs is necessary to the mission .

"Training is vital and everybody's input is important," added Capt. Ryan Kay, a 66th ERQS Pave Hawk pilot who often works with the PJs. "We are their recovery vehicle, so we really need to make sure we work well together and everyone is on their game to ensure we accomplish the mission.

"They (PJs) are always gung ho and eager to go out and fly with us," continued Kay, a Beaumont, Calif., native. "They have a difficult job. As soon as we land or get them on the ground, their mission is to recover whoever's on the ground that we need to pick up.
Their goal is to bring back fellow servicemembers alive, and they'll do anything to make it happen."

"That others may live" is a motto echoed throughout the CSAR community.

"We have the most noble mission in the Air Force," added Kay. "Our job is to go out there and help fellow servicemembers. There is a huge sense of camaraderie among us. Really, just the idea that you're there to help your buddies out is about the most rewarding mission you can get. "

Risking their lives to save others is why they practice their skills continuously and are willing to offer up their lives to come to the aid of those in need.

"This is an honorable mission and a great force multiplier," said Fleming, a career pararescuemen with 23 years of experience. "I like the feeling we give our fellow servicemembers. They know that no matter what, they will not be left behind."

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U.S. Air Force pararescuemen Senior Airman Corey Farr (right), and Staff Sgt. Jeremy Diola (center), and Senior Master Sgt. Michael Fleming of the 66th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron pull security after exiting an HH-60G Pave Hawk during an operational training exercise in Iraq on Sept. 19, 2008.
(Photographer: Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon : U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs)

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U.S. Air Force pararescuemen Staff Sgt. Jeromy Diola (right), and Senior Airman Cory Farr (center), and Senior Master Sgt. Michael Fleming of the 66th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron prepare for the landing of an HH-60G Pave Hawk in Iraq on Sept. 19, 2008.
(Photographer: Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon : U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs)

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U.S. Air Force pararescuemen from the 66th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron aboard a HH-60G Pave Hawk during a operational training in Iraq on Sept. 19, 2008.
(Photographer: Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon : U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs)

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U.S. Air Force Pilot Capt. Ryan Kay of the 66th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron conducts pre-flight checks on a HH-60G Pave Hawk prior to an operational training flight Sept. 19, 2008.
(Photographer: Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon : U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs)
 

Ravage

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Staff Sgt. Ben Vorheis, a flight engineer with the 66th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, conducts a pre-flight inspection on a HH-60G Pave Hawk, Sept.19, 2008, before a proficiency training exercise at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
(Photographer: Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon : U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs)

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U.S. Air Force pararescuemen Senior Airman Corey Farr of the 66th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron repels from a HH-60G Pave Hawk during operational training in Iraq on Sept. 19, 2008.
(Photographer: Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon : U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs)

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U.S. Air Force pararescuemen Senior Master Sgt. Michael Fleming of the 66th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron scans from a HH-60G Pave Hawk during operational training on Joint Base Balad, Sept. 19, 2008.
(Photographer: Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon : U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs)

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U.S. Air Force pararescuemen Senior Airman Corey Farr of the 66th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron repels from an HH-60G Pave Hawk during operational training in Iraq on Sept. 19, 2008.
(Photographer: Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon : U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs)
 

Ravage

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21a0177.jpg

U.S. Air Force pararescuemen from the 66th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron practice personnel recovery techniques using a rescue basket from a HH-60G Pave Hawk during an operational training exercise in Iraq on Sept. 19, 2008.
(Photographer: Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon : U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs)

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HH-60G Pave Hawks from the 66th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron fly over an area in Iraq during an operational training exercise, Sept. 19, 2008.
(Photographer: Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon : U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs)

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U.S. Air Force pararescuemen Staff Sgt. Jeremy Diola of the 66th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron uses a rope ladder to get back aboard an HH-60G Pave Hawk during operational training in Iraq on Sept. 19, 2008.
(Photographer: Staff Sgt. Aaron Allmon : U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs)
 

Josh466

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Cool pics. I'm surprised they're using ACUs, if they were to wear another uniform figured it would be MARPAT, seems better suited for the environment. And now that I'm thinking about it, I've seen pics of SEALs also wearing ACUs.
 

DA SWO

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The ACU's suprised me too, especially since Big Blue outlawed them, guessing their Chain of Command is better then average and letting them fly/work in ACU's (they could always be ACU flight suits too!)
 
R

redneck

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what caught my eye was that they were "Repeling". why couldnt the article writer,who is a servivce member, have done some research and checked a little better. It is "Rappelling",with an "A". You REPEL bugs;you RAPPELL from a helo,ect. Otherwise,a good article on a great part of our SOF.
 

car

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what caught my eye was that they were "Repeling". why couldnt the article writer,who is a servivce member, have done some research and checked a little better. It is "Rappelling",with an "A". You REPEL bugs;you RAPPELL from a helo,ect. Otherwise,a good article on a great part of our SOF.

Maybe they were rappelling in to repel boarders :D
 

AssadUSMC

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Cool pics. I'm surprised they're using ACUs, if they were to wear another uniform figured it would be MARPAT, seems better suited for the environment. And now that I'm thinking about it, I've seen pics of SEALs also wearing ACUs.

A lot of the TF guys are wearing Multi-Cam over there. It's a lot of "wear what you want" kind of stuff. Big boy rules and all that...
 

the_coug

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is there a POC for a CRO at JBB?? I occasionally make it over there when my platoon needs to refit, just curious if there is a CRO with these guys or not.
 

Ravage

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http://www.centaf.af.mil/news/story_print.asp?id=123145479

Balad rescue squadron serves as Iraq’s ‘Guardian Angels’

4/22/2009 - JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq -- Coalition military members performing their missions in Iraq have plenty of equipment, tools, tactics, and techniques at their disposal in the event of a worst-case scenario in the field. However - if those safeguards fail - a unique team of operators from the 64th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron is standing by, ready to help at all costs.

"Our primary mission is personnel recovery," said Maj. Kevin Lehnerd, a HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter pilot from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., assigned to the squadron. "Our role provides pilots and people on the ground a sense of security when they are accomplishing their missions."

If a downed pilot, a stranded convoy or any other serivicemember operating in dangerous territory needed to be rescued or aided as soon as possible, the 64th ERQS Airmen are trained and ready to bring them to safety.

According to the unit's fact sheet, the squadron runs the largest single combat search and rescue operation since the end of the Vietnam War and consists of HH-60 Pave Hawk aircrew members, Guardian Angel weapons system personnel, a helicopter maintenance unit and associated support functions. The 64th ERQS is tasked directly through the Joint Personnel Recovery Center located at the Combined Air and Space Operations Center in Southwest Asia.

One of the unit's most significant assets is the Pave Hawk, which is based on the more recognized UH-60 Blackhawk, but features advanced navigational systems, improved avionics and the ability to re-fuel in mid-air, Major Lehnerd said.

In addition to the squadron's blends of helicopter operations and maintenance capabilities are its pararescue Airmen. Known as "PJs," they bring to the theater a unique blend of combat search and rescue skills that are meticulously honed through countless hours of preparation, both at home station and while deployed.

For a rescue squadron, every location can offer a different mission scope and set of challenges.

Members of the unit have not only been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan on multiple occasions, but also have supported domestic operations such as recovery of civilians during Hurricanes Ike and Katrina, Major Lehnerd said.

Prior to deploying to Iraq, Staff Sgt. Ivan Eggel, a PJ deployed from Kadena Air Base in Japan, was also part of an operation where a Panamanian freighter at sea several thousand miles away from Japan reported two critical injuries. Sergeant Eggel and his team were transported near the ship via an MC-130, where they performed a free-fall night dive into the ocean and used inflatable boats to get to the ship where they provided non-stop care to the injured mariners for more than 30 hours until the ship was close enough for them to be airlifted to Andersen Air Base, Guam, by Navy helicopters.

Given the unique nature of the mission for the squadron while in Iraq, every opportunity to train for the 64th ERQS Airmen is not taken lightly.

"We train together and we got all spun-up before we got here," Sergeant Eggel said. "Some of us have been working together for longer than two years and we work well together."

During a recent exercise, a team consisting of two HH-60Gs and their PJ teams flew a mission in Baghdad to practice infiltration techniques. During the exercise, the helicopters drew close to several buildings to allow the PJs to fast-rope from the choppers to the rooftops and ground below and tactically secure the area so they could practice hoisting recovered personnel back up into the helicopters. The pilots maintained their positions while the gunners provided overwatch security with their .50-caliber weapons.

Though the whole operation did not last more than an hour, the mission details were choreographed during the pre-brief down to how much rope would be needed for the planned 75-foot rappels, safety concerns for the team as well as unique flying conditions within the city such as wires and towers.

Ensuring the unit stays ready for the personnel recovery mission is a challenge as soon as a rescue squadron arrives in the theater, said Lt. Col. Thomas Kunkel, 64th ERQS commander. The teams train at a high pace to prepare for a variety of operations when they are not deployed and making sure the team's skills remain razor sharp by training while serving in a combat environment is a constant challenge, he added.

Two days later, the PJs held an additional training session at Joint Base Balad where the team treated a simulated casualty while focusing on keeping the area's perimeter secure and ensuring the extraction procedure went smoothly.

"We're medics first," said Senior Airman Matthew Street, also deployed from Kadena and a native of Great Falls, Mont. "We always incorporate a medical portion into our training."

The exercise focused on the team providing aid to a simulated survivor, where the team provided security while Airman Street and another PJ treated the victim's broken arm and leg. Adding splints, checking blood pressure and moving the victim to a litter, the PJs were able to swiftly extract their patient from the exercise area under the watchful eye of the team leader and combat rescue officer.

"Helping people gives us a good feeling, it's why a lot of people sign up for this job," Sergeant Eggel said. "I like to do hands-on stuff (like this) and this job definitely provides that opportunity."

The constant training is critical as the PJs are tasked to operate in a variety of environments, each with their own challenges.

However, always staying ready and ensuring they fulfill the PJ motto "That others may live," provides satisfaction for the squadron's Airmen.

"This is a cool job," Airman Street said. "I've always enjoyed helping people and this allows me to do that."
 
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