Air Force Reserve PJ laid to rest in Florida

From the 920th Rescue Wing: Loved ones and fellow Reserve Citizen Airmen paid respects as Master Sgt. William Posch, 36, of Indialantic, Florida, was laid to rest with full military honors at Florida Memorial Gardens, Rockledge, Florida, Thursday, June 21. A seasoned combat veteran, Sergeant Posch served as a pararescuemen assigned to the 308th Rescue Squadron providing combat rescue support for Inherent Resolve when he and seven Airmen were killed in an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crash in Anbar Province, Iraq, March 15, 2018. Also in attendance were Maj. Gen. Derek P. Rydholm, Deputy to the Chief of Air Force Reserve, Headquarters U.S. Air Force Washington, D.C.; Maj. Gen. Ronald “Bruce” Miller, 10th Air Force commander; and Chief Master Sgt. James W. Loper, Command Chief both with the 10th Air Force, Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas; as well as the 920th Rescue Wing commander, Col. Kurt A. Matthews and wing leadership. Patrick AFB flags flew at half-staff while fully military honors were rendered by the Team Patrick Honor Guard at Sergeant Posch’s final internment site to include firing one of three volleys. Pararescue teammates from the 308th RQS folded and presented flags to Posch’s immediate family members. Posch was one of three Guardian Angel Airmen the pararescue community lost; Capt. Mark Weber, 29, a combat rescue officer assigned to the 38th RQS, Moody AFB, Georgia; and Staff Sgt. Carl Enis, 31, assigned to the 308th RQS. “It is hard to lose members of your team and your community, but the loss of these warriors will take a long time for us to recover from.  Bill was an exceptional leader who did everything in his power to ensure his team was ready for any situation. Bill demanded excellence in everyone around him…a remarkable father, operator and leader, and his legacy will live forever in the squadron!” said Lt. Col. Timothy Hanks, 308th Rescue Squadron commander. Each Guardian Angel Airmen in attendance followed a time-honored pararescue tradition of pounding the flash from their maroon berets into the lid of the casket. This was followed by the completion of a round of memorial pushups to honor their fallen teammate. “I’ve been impressed with all the men and women of the 308th who’ve been able to honor their fallen heroes and continue to move on with the rescue mission we all serve,” said Col. Kurt Matthews, 920th Rescue Wing commander.  “The greatest tribute to Bill will be how we keep his memory and legacy alive in the ways that we conduct our training, our missions, and ourselves.  He helped lead us by example, and still does.” Posch had 18 years of service, the last 10 were with the 920th RQW. Posch supported major military operations at home and abroad including Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, Joint Task Force Katrina, JTF NASA Space Shuttle launches and recoveries, and most recently last August JTF Harvey, where he and his fellow rescue warriors rescued 235 hurricane victims in Texas from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, as well as a long-range rescue at sea saving two German citizens whose sailboat caught fire and sunk a month earlier. In 2013, Sergeant Posch was recognized as one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. Among his decorations were the Air Medal with silver oak leaf cluster; an Aerial Achievement Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal with Valor. He was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal with Combat Device posthumously. //ENDS// Rest Easy Pikey.PJ Original story extracted from the 920 RQW

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Reserve Citizen Airmen earn Rescue Mission of the Year award

  PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Thirty-three 920th Rescue Wing Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 920th Rescue Wing out of Cocoa Beach (Brevard County) were recently honored with the 2017 Jolly Green Association Rescue Mission of the Year award for their actions July 7, 2017 in saving two German sailors stranded in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 500 miles off the coast of Florida. The unique and intricate mission, which involved more than 30 hours of collective flying between the unit’s HH-60 Pave Hawks and HC-130N Kings, eight air refuelings transferring 16,600 pounds of fuel, a precisely executed open-ocean rescue insertion, and a highly technical nighttime shipboard patient exfil resulting in two lives saved, led to it being deemed the most significant rescue mission of the year. “Please extend my congratulations to the crews of Air Force Rescue 05/06/235/237 and the associated Guardian Angel teams,” wrote Lt. Gen. Mark Nowland, deputy chief of staff for operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, in a congratulatory letter. “My heartfelt thanks goes out to the warriors who live by the motto, ‘These things we do, that others may live.’ I am especially proud of the teamwork displayed by multiple aircrews and Guardian Angel teams in performing the most outstanding U.S. Air Force rescue mission in 2017.” A Guardian Angel team is comprised of combat rescue officers; pararescuemen; survival, evasion, resistance and escape (SERE) specialists and uniquely trained support personnel dedicated to the Air Force core function of personnel recovery. The specific capability of the 920th Rescue Wing’s Guardian Angel Airmen, combined with its air refueling and extended-range airpower make it uniquely able to accomplish the mission where few others in the world can. It is the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s sole combat-search-and-rescue wing. This is why the U.S. Coast Guard’s Seventh District in Miami immediately directed the call for help to Col. Kurt Matthews, 920th RQW commander, via the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, on July 7, 2017. “This was an extremely complex and unusual mission,” said Matthews. “The lengths our Reserve Citizen Airmen went through to save these men is incredible and I am extremely proud of them.” Matthews noted the unit was not facing the most ideal circumstances when they received the call for help that morning. The two HC-130s required to transport the Guardian Angel team and refuel the HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters were broken and the helicopter crews were on crew rest. However, the team pulled together and within two hours the maintenance crews fixed and launched the first HC-130 carrying the Guardian Angel team and their equipment. Two hours later, the helicopters headed to the scene, while the maintenance crews worked on the second HC-130. Around this same time, the Guardian Angel team parachuted into the ocean out of the back of the HC-130, followed by their zodiac inflatable boat and medical equipment. After reaching the survivors, they provided urgent medical care and transported them to a nearby freighter whose crew volunteered to help. Under the cover of darkness, the HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter teams arrived and their crews hoisted the men into the aircraft bound for the Orlando Regional Medical Center. The survivors spent roughly two weeks in the hospital before returning to Germany. The survivors reunited with some their rescuers Jan. 26, 2018, when the Airmen traveled to Hamburg, Germany, to receive the German Medal of Honor on Ribbon for Rescue Missions at Sea in Gold on behalf of the wing. It was the first time in 20 years that the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service had bestowed the honor upon an organization. The son, who had sustained second and third-degree burns to much of his lower body thanked his rescuers publically at the ceremony. “I would like to express my heartfelt thank you to my Guardian Angels for rescuing me,” said Karl Meer Jr. “With my injuries and without water, I don’t think I would have lived another day.” Chief Master Sgt. Randy Wells, 301st Rescue Squadron chief enlisted manager, who assembled the wing’s nomination for the Jolly Green award, was one of the aviators assisting in the rescue that day on an HH-60 Pave Hawk and who traveled to Germany to receive the Medal of Honor and meet the Meers. “I was lucky to be crew rested that day and glad to participate along with 32 other professionals who took to the air in a very memorable rescue that bridged German-American relations and solidified our noble mission,” he said. “This award recognizes the hard work, dedication and compassion all rescue professionals have for their craft.” The Reserve Citizen Airmen who flew on the July 7, 2017 mission include: Lt. Col. Steven Lawhun, 39th Rescue Squadron Lt. Col. John Lowe, 39th RQS Lt. Col. Wilfred Rodriguez, 39th RQS Lt. Col.[…]

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Citizen Airmen conduct long-range rescue of cruise passenger

  PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — Within two hours of the call, Citizen Airmen with 920th Rescue Wing took to the skies bound for a cruise ship roughly 500 miles off the Florida coastline carrying an elderly passenger suffering an acute condition and in need of medical evacuation Nov. 7, 2017. The long-range mission, requiring two HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters, Guardian Angel pararescue teams, and an HC-130N King fixed-wing combat aerial refueler, lasted roughly eight hours and ended with the patient and his spouse being safely transported to Holmes Regional Medical Center, Melbourne, Florida. The initial call went out to the Coast Guard District 5, Portsmouth, Virginia, who then reached out to the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, late that morning. “The RCC had already reached a conclusion before calling the 920th RQW that no other assets could reach the cruise ship in time due to the distance,” said Col. Michael LoForti, 920th Operations Group commander. “It wasn’t a matter if we would help, but could we assist in the rescue effort.” A meeting was called with the squadron commanders and maintenance to determine if the manpower and assets were available to accept the mission. “It took less than a minute to make the call,” LoForti said. “We generated the aircrew, aircraft, pararescue teams, and a mission plan, and were able to launch in a matter of hours.” The plan entailed travelling hundreds of miles to the ship bound for Baltimore, Maryland; lowering two pararescuemen onto the ship; hoisting the patient and his spouse onto the helicopter; and transporting them the hospital. “It was great seeing everyone come together from maintenance to the aircrew and Guardian Angel rescue teams to make this thing happen,” said 1st Lt. Courtney McCallan, 301st Rescue Squadron HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter pilot. “I’m glad we could help.” McCallan piloted the lead aircraft during the mission, watching overhead in an offset position as the second helicopter team conducted the rescue. It was shortly after sunset when the special missions aviation specialist aboard the second hovering Pave Hawk lowered two pararescuemen about 35-feet down onto the ship’s top deck, which sat about 100 feet above the water. After making contact with the patient’s doctor on the ship, the rescue specialists loaded the man into a Stokes basket, a litter made of metal, and hoisted him into the aircraft. “Even with obstacles like limited visibility with our night vision goggles and having to hover over a moving vessel, they executed the mission flawlessly,” said McCallan. Shortly after heading back to Florida, the 39th Rescue Squadron’s HC-130N crew lowered the fuel lines for one last air-to-air refueling before the crews dropped off their passengers and headed back to Patrick AFB. The HC-130N crew conducted a total of three air-to-air refuelings during the mission, supplying approximately 15,400 pounds of gas to the helicopters. “We train for these types of missions often, but when you actually get to put those skills to work and save someone’s life, it’s a pretty fulfilling thing,” said Lt. Col. Bob Seitz, 39th RQS director of operations. Both the HC-130N and HH-60 crews emphasized the key role maintenance played in the success of the mission, being able to generate all the aircraft necessary so quickly. “When we hear real-world search and rescue then everything kicks into high gear, and everyone pulls together to make it happen,” said Senior Master Sgt. Dennis Grant, 920th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Helicopter Maintenance Unit superintendent. “We have extremely talented and dedicated individuals in our maintenance complex all with the same goal, and that is to provide the safest, most reliable aircraft for our operators we can. The advantage the Citizen Airmen bring is the experience on the various aircraft. We have individuals that have over 20 years on the airframes.” LoForti said he is proud of the hard work put forth by the wing’s Citizen Airmen in yet another successful rescue. The 920th Rescue Wing has saved 238 people and 26 pets in the last five months to include two German boaters stranded at sea after their sailboat caught fire and sank as well as victims of Hurricane Harvey. “The men and women of the 920th Rescue Wing continue to amaze me in their ability to execute challenging short-notice missions” said Loforti. “I’m proud to be a small part of such a motivated wing.” Original Story here: http://www.920rqw.afrc.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1369337/citizen-airmen-conduct-long-range-rescue-of-cruise-passenger/

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