Patrick Space Force Base 920th Rescue Wing Conducts Open Water Rescue Training

Smoke markers and sea dye were used to establish reference points

The Patrick Space Force Base 920th Rescue Wing recently conducted Open Water Rescue Training, and in the above image, Master Sgts. Chris Doster and Spencer Schenkelberg, 39th Rescue Squadron loadmasters, throw Mk25 smoke markers and LUU-2 flares from the back of an HC-130 J Combat King II aircraft on February 16. (920th Rescue Wing image)

BREVARD COUNTY • PATRICK SPACE FORCE, FLORIDA – The Patrick Space Force Base 920th Rescue Wing recently conducted Open Water Rescue Training, and in the above image, Master Sgts. Chris Doster and Spencer Schenkelberg, 39th Rescue Squadron loadmasters, throw Mk25 smoke markers and LUU-2 flares from the back of an HC-130 J Combat King II aircraft on February 16.

Smoke markers and sea dye are used to establish reference points on the surface of land or water to rescue forces to indicate where isolated personnel is located.

During night operations, loadmasters use the LUU-2 flare to illuminate a wide area.

The 920th Rescue Wing is part of the Air Reserve Component of the United States Air Force. The wing is assigned to the Tenth Air Force of the Air Force Reserve Command.

The 920th Rescue Wing is stationed at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, with additional geographically separated units consisting of the 943d Rescue Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona; the 304th Rescue Squadron at Portland Air National Guard Base, Oregon; and the 920th Aerospace Medicine Squadron at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.

If mobilized to active duty with the Regular Air Force, the wing is operationally gained by the Air Combat Command.

Headquartered at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, the 920 RQW is AFRC’s premier combat search and rescue unit. The wing consists of over 2,500 Airmen, trained and equipped to locate and recover U.S. Armed Forces personnel during both peacetime and wartime military operations.

Additional missions have included manned spaceflight support, such as providing rescue support for NASA Space Shuttle missions during that program’s operation; providing search and rescue support for civilians who are lost or in distress over land or at sea; and lending support in humanitarian and disaster relief operations with the wing’s HH-60G Pave Hawk and, until December 2019, HC-130P/N Hercules COMBAT KING aircraft.

In addition to its two aircraft squadrons in Florida and an additional aircraft squadron with its subordinate 943 RQG in Arizona, the 920 RQW has three additional rescue squadrons in Florida, Arizona and Oregon consisting of Combat Rescue Officers and enlisted Pararescuemen, the latter known as PJs. While many CROs and PJs enter the 920th from the active duty Air Force, others are accessed directly into the Air Force Reserve. (920th Rescue Wing image)

With the retirement of its last HC-130P/N, the 920 RQW transitioned to the HC-130J Hercules COMBAT KING II, with the wing’s first HC-130J arriving on 2 April 2020.

The 920 RQW will also eventually retire its HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters and replace them with the HH-60W Jolly Green Giant II.

In addition to its two aircraft squadrons in Florida and an additional aircraft squadron with its subordinate 943 RQG in Arizona, the 920 RQW has three additional rescue squadrons in Florida, Arizona and Oregon consisting of Combat Rescue Officers and enlisted Pararescuemen, the latter known as PJs. While many CROs and PJs enter the 920th from the active duty Air Force, others are accessed directly into the Air Force Reserve.

CRO and PJ Candidates must pass a physical assessment test with a 15% success rate. An average of eighty people Air Force-wide enter the 2-year CRO / PJ training program each year. The CRO / PJ team, along with enlisted Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) experts, is collectively known as GUARDIAN ANGEL.

The 920 RQW also has an additional squadron consisting of aerospace medical personnel as a geographically separated unit (GSU) based in Virginia.

The 920 RQW was involved in the famous ‘Lone Survivor’ Operation Red Wings mission that rescued Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell in Afghanistan and helped in the recovery operation to retrieve the remains of Luttrell’s fallen SEAL team. Since 1956, the 920 RQW and its predecessor organizations have saved more than 3,800 lives, including 850 combat rescues and 3,000 peacetime rescues, such as the 1,043 lives the wing saved during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

– Wikipedia contributed to this report

The 920 RQW was involved in the famous ‘Lone Survivor’ Operation Red Wings mission that rescued Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell in Afghanistan and helped in the recovery operation to retrieve the remains of Luttrell’s fallen SEAL team. Since 1956, the 920 RQW and its predecessor organizations have saved more than 3,800 lives, including 850 combat rescues and 3,000 peacetime rescues, such as the 1043 lives the wing saved during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. (920th Rescue Wing image)
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