Mission Of Mercy
A combat search and rescue crew rescued two Afghans who had been
wounded by a mortar attack on a Coalition base northeast of
Kandahar on July 28th.
The two -- an adult and a 12-year-old boy -- were brought to the
local base set up by US Army soldiers who had gained the trust of
Because the village is 8,000 feet into the mountains and the sun
had set, the only option for immediate medical evacuation was a US
Air Force HH-60G Pavehawk combat search and rescue crew from
"Because of the Pavehawk's capabilities, it can fly during
periods of very low illumination," said US Air Force Capt. Chris
Roness, a watch supervisor in US Central Command's Joint Search and
Rescue Center. He is deployed from Fairchild Air Force Base, WA.
"They fly when it's too dangerous for conventional medevac."
Helicopters have to push their limits at that altitude, he said,
adding that the pitch-black darkness without moonlight would have
compounded the risks for other rescue options. HH-60G crews have
night-vision goggles, infrared lighting and a forward-looking
infrared system that enhance night operations.
"These guys did it like it was old hat," Roness said.
Minutes after getting the job, two helicopters standing alert
took off from Kandahar, each crewed by a pilot, co-pilot, flight
engineer and two pararescuemen.
Search-and-rescue crews stand continual 24-7 alert to respond to
any situation, Roness said.
The mortars had taken out the landing zone at the base, so
ground forces secured an alternate site. It took only 10 minutes to
load the two patients and one of the boy's parents onto the
helicopter. The pararescuemen on board tended to the patients
during the flight.
"Their unique rescue qualifications make them ideally suited for
these high-risk medevac missions," said US Air Force 1st Lt.
Jonathan Harmon, a combat rescue officer deployed from
Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ. "In layman's terms, they are paramedics, but
they're trained in field trauma and surgical techniques above and
beyond the normal paramedic. They're combat trauma
Within an hour the patients and crew had landed at Kandahar
Airfield for treatment at the medical facility there. The patients
have since been released.