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 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 here as part of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.
“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 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 here, the 303rd ERQS provides long range, adverse weather, and vertical lift capabilities in environments that fixed-wing aircraft cannot access.
“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.”
With the capabilities of CJTF-HOA providing a crisis response throughout Africa with our coalition and joint partners allows the freedom of movement to protect and defend U.S. interests and support our aligned regional efforts.
CJTF-HOA continues to gain professionals who are specifically trained to problem solve, integrate and execute any rescue at any time. The the 303rd ERQS team of highly skilled pilots, special mission aviators and weapons maintenance airmen, conducts extensive pre-mission planning, rehearses the execution, and executes for mission success; ensuring whomever they have been tasked to rescue, is rescued successfully.
“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.
Regardless of location or theater, the responsibility and mission of the 303rd ERQS is naturally their motivation. History, both distance and recent, has shown what this community will do to bring home our own, their motivation is to live up to that legacy.
According to U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen Richard T. Kight, commander of USAF Air Rescue Service from 1946-1952, “It is my duty as a Pararescueman to save lives and to aid the injured. I will be prepared at all times to perform my assigned duties quickly and efficiently, placing these duties before personal desires and comforts.”
As the legacy continues to live on, so does their motto, “These things I do, that others may live.”