Airmen hone search, rescue skills during exercise

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Aaron J. Jenne
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The 3rd Airlift Squadron supported exercise Rapid Rescue May 15–18, 2017, providing transportation and simulated aeromedical evacuation along the East Coast.

The exercise showcased search and rescue techniques, as well as aeromedical evacuation capabilities of the 38th Rescue Squadron from Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.

“This was a great opportunity for our crew to not only see the execution of combat search and rescue operations first hand but directly coordinate with our Combat Air Force partners at the 1st Fighter Wing,” said Capt. Jeff Hogan, a 3rd AS pilot. “It was key for us to identify how our roles and responsibilities complement each other and where we can better integrate to effectively accomplish operations in a high risk environment across multiple major weapons systems.”

During the exercise, members of the 41st Helicopter Maintenance Unit loaded two HH-60G Pave Hawk search and rescue helicopters aboard the C-17 at Moody AFB, where it was then sent to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.

The next morning, two combat search and rescue teams flew out over the Atlantic Ocean aboard their helicopters to rescue members of a simulated incident. Shortly thereafter, three personnel, who suffered simulated injuries, were retrieved and transported to the C-17 awaiting rapid aeromedical evacuation. The 38th RQS pararescuemen practiced various in-flight medical procedures to stabilize the simulated patients, while coordinating with the C-17 aircrew during the hour-long flight.

“I’ve never actually done a casualty evacuation on a C-17, and I’m almost positive nobody else on my team has either,” said Tech. Sgt. Eric Braddock, the 38th RQS pararescue team leader. “It was extremely eye-opening for us. It was a very good experience for us to see the amount of space we have available and how the stanchions are laid out. The crew really helped us out too. By the time we got there, they had everything ready for us, and we were airborne in no time. I hope we get even more training opportunities like this.”

Later that day, the C-17 aircrew flew under the protection of a four-ship F-22 Raptor formation. Once over the Atlantic, the escort called for the cargo plane to make a tactical decent to 500 feet, nearly skimming the water, when simulated aggressors entered the air space. For the next 30 minutes, the smaller, more nimble Raptors engaged in a dogfight with the aggressive T-38 Talons as the bulky C-17 safely flew along the ocean surface. Several times the Globemaster crew responded to maneuvering commands from the escorts, banking 60-degree turns toward new headings dodging air and sea threats while maintaining low level flight.

“It was impressive to see how quickly they implemented their tactics, techniques and procedures in response to our maneuvers,” Hogan said. "I’m confident that everyone on the crew is more prepared to respond effectively to a real-world situation. In a C-17, we don’t get a lot of opportunities to work across obility Air Forces and Combat Air Forces lines, so it’s a great opportunity to further refine our TTPs and reinforce key relationships with our combat partners at the 1st Fighter Wing.”

Another takeaway from the exercise included maintainers learning the safest procedures to load helicopters onto C-17s. Loading the 65-foot-long, 8-ton HH-60Gs required coordinated effort from about 10 people pulling, pushing and watching for any indication of possible collision.

“Loading oversized cargo is complicated,” said Tech. Sgt. Brendan Proctor, a 3rd AS loadmaster. “If you aren’t careful, it’s very easy to damage either the cargo or the plane. It’s always good to give Airmen who may load a plane someday the opportunity to get some hands-on experience.”