Time is of the essence when it comes to someone sustaining life-threatening injuries in a deployed location. With the capabilities provided by a combat search and rescue (CSAR) team, time is on their side knowing they are there when we need them the most.
This is exactly what the 303rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron is providing as part of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, according to the Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA).
“Today’s Airmen are flying farther, faster and into threat environments that have never been considered before,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Brough McDonald, 303rd ERQS weapons officer. “Being here is a challenging and rewarding mission. It’s not just a pickup game or a page in a checklist.”
The 303rd ERQS CSAR teams, made entirely of US Air Force Reserve Command Airmen, are trained to take any lead during rescue operations in order to locate, generate, coordinate and track isolated personnel. By holding a CSAR alert at Camp Lemonnier, the 303rd ERQS provides long range, adverse weather, and vertical lift capabilities in environments that fixed-wing aircraft cannot access, CJTF-HOA said.
“The HH-60 Pave Hawk is optimized to fly into, operate, and survive in a wide range of threat environments the Combat Air Force can find itself in,” said McDonald. “From penetrating an enemy’s integrated air defense system, to defending the survivor and team from threats, then hovering to hoist the survivor out at 7,000 feet.”
“The rescue mission at its core is about a group of Airmen going behind enemy lines, risking all to save one,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Antonio Jimenez, 303rd ERQS special mission aviator instructor. “The mission and motto we live by is about sacrifice and being willing to risk everything.”
According to Jimenez, these Airmen act without concern of their own in order to save that Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine or Coastguardsmen who is in crisis.