920th Rescue Wing Reaches New Milestone, Still Going Strong 60 Years Later
By Maj. Cathleen Snow, 920th Rescue Wing // August 23, 2016
Air Force Reserve’s first rescue squadron
ABOVE VIDEO: The 920th Rescue Wing is a U.S. Air Force Reserve combat-search-and-rescue wing located in Cocoa Beach, Fla. with three geographically separated units across the United States (Tucson, Ariz., Portland, Ore. and Langley, Va.), it’s primary mission is to rescue injured servicemembers on the battlefield. Secondarily, its missions include humanitarian contingency response and spaceflight range clearing and safety. The 920th Rescue Wing has a long history serving as the guardians of the astronauts during all human spaceflight missions. The wing’s motto is, these things we do that others may live.
BREVARD COUNTY • PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, FLORIDA – The 920th Rescue Wing turned 60-years-old last week!
It was originally activated on August 18, 1956 under its first designation, the 301st Air Rescue Squadron at Homestead Air Reserve Base, near Miami, Florida, becoming the Air Force Reserve’s first rescue squadron.
In the 1960s, the unit began a long relationship with NASA and the U.S. space program, providing rescue-contingency operations for the first Mercury launch and all future manned space operations.
In August 1992, despite suffering considerable damage at Homestead due to Hurricane Andrew, its Airmen performed more than 135 life-saving missions the three weeks following the disaster. Shortly thereafter, the unit relocated to Patrick Air Force Base, where it is currently.
In 2003 920th Airmen were the first in prior to the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom and made several high-profile rescues throughout the war. In 2005, the wing began mobilizations into Afghanistan supporting Enduring Freedom over the next decade making multiple combat rescues, including rescuing Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, who documented his ordeal in the Blockbuster movie, “Lone Survivor.”
At the tail end of the first OEF rotation, Wing Airmen responded to the largest rescue operation in Air Force history, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Today, the 920th Rescue Wing has one of the highest operations tempos in the Air Force Reserve and its Airmen continue to deploy in support of global operations.
Comprised of 2,000 Citizen Airmen, it trains and equips its operators to locate and recover U.S. Armed Forces personnel during military operations
The 920th is comprised of 3 weapons systems: The HH-60 Pave Hawk Helicopter; the HC-130P/N King fixed wing refueling aircraft; and the Guardian Angel Weapons systems-elite, highly trained trauma specialists with specialized training in SCUBA, skydiving and weapons to provide rescue anytime/anywhere—the 911 of the battlefield.
The 920th’s aircraft fleet consists of 9 helicopters and 6 C-130 fixed-wing tanker aircraft. The HC-130P/N King provides in-flight refueling to HH-60 rescue crews allowing an unlimited range of rescue operations–rescue services from coast-to-coast.
The 920th also provides safety and security surveillance of the Eastern Range during Space Coast rocket launches and is on target to become the premier rescue force for future manned spaceflight missions.