PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – A group of approximately 40 Citizen Airmen from the 920th Rescue Wing are deploying to Texas to exercise their hurricane relief capabilities. If the Federal Emergency Management Agency or Air Combat Command gives the order to provide disaster relief following Hurricane Harvey’s devastating effects to the state, the 920th will be ready to help.
“We train constantly for situations like this. Our Airmen our highly specialized and have the ability to utilize their expert combat life-saving skills and aircraft to provide relief and rescue,’ said Col. Kurt Matthews, 920 RQW commander, who flew disaster relief missions during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 which led to 1,043 lives saved.
Wing Airmen will launch three HH-60G Pave Hawk combat-search-and-rescue helicopters and two combat king HC-130P/N aerial refueling aircraft to Naval Air Station Ft. Worth Joint Reserve Base where they’ll work with the Navy commander there and utilize the 301st Fighter Wing’s facilities to set up base operations.
The rescue team includes pararescuemen, combat rescue officers and a survival evasion resistance escape specialist, or SERE specialist. Among their proficiencies include trauma medicine, swiftwater rescue and nighttime hoist operations which will allow the team to operate a 24-hour operation
“We have been going through our readiness checklists and putting out the word to our Citizen Airmen to pre-plan with their civilian employers to give them time off to serve. Its times like these we can't thank those civilian employers enough for the sacrifices they make to allow us to support crisis situations. Air Force Reservists and their civilian employers are integral part of our national defense,” said Matthews.
The Wing has a 50-year history of saving lives, and its Airmen have rescued more than 3,000 personnel in peacetime and in combat. They live by the motto, “these things we do that others may live.”