Essential logistics support makes personnel recovery possible

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Brigitte N. Brantley
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
Before any rescue mission can happen, special operations Airmen must be properly equipped, a responsibility the 38th Rescue Squadron logistics flight is dedicated to.

Responsible for all aircrew flight equipment, communication devices and maritime operations, the flight provides essential support both at home station and downrange to the 60 special operations Airmen assigned with them.

"Our special ops Airmen rely on this flight to provide them with top-notch equipment so they can get to where they need to be, do the job they need to do and get home," said Capt. Joshua Peter, 38th RQS logistics flight commander. "Without the support of all these sections, our rescue mission would not be able to happen."

Often, the job required of the pararescuemen, combat rescue officers, and survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists takes them to missions in isolated locations, sometimes on short notice.

One of the three sections that help support these missions is radio communications, a three-man shop responsible for making sure the Airmen can properly communicate when needed.

"Good communication support ensures the special ops Airmen are able to talk to each other and to the aircraft in order to pass on vital information such as which direction enemy fire is coming from," said Senior Airman Jacob Manee, 38th RQS logistics flight radio frequency transmission systems journeyman. "Because of the nature of their job, they often travel in small teams and must be able to communicate efficiently."

Along with basic radios, the section also provides global positioning systems which are vital to success when in unfamiliar locations.

"Having reliable GPS units helps them not only get to the rendezvous point or point of impact, but also assures them they have the most up-to-date maps available to help navigate unfamiliar terrain," Airman Manee said. "We get them the best equipment so they can focus on their mission."

Sometimes, that terrain isn't always on land; because the special operations Airmen can conduct missions on water, the maritime operations section is there to make sure it goes smoothly.

"We're responsible for maintaining all maritime equipment not only for water missions, but also water training, which can happen as often as three to four times a month," said Patrick Sinon, 38th RQS logistics flight boat master and retired pararescueman. "The equipment we maintain ensures that anyone who is downed in a water environment can be saved because their rescuers are ready and have all the tools they need."

The equipment includes safety boats, boat motors and buoyancy compensation vests. The rest of the maritime equipment is scuba gear such as air tanks, regulators and alternate rescue craft, which have sleds to secure injured patients on.

Sometimes access to rescue locations is not always feasible by boat and the special operations Airmen may sometimes have to jump in, something done with the assistance of the aircrew flight equipment section.

Known as "riggers," the AFE Airmen are responsible for the maintenance and repair of parachutes, airdrop equipment, parachutist oxygen systems, life rafts and cargo bundles, and dive equipment, among many other things.

"We're continually working with our special operations counterparts to make sure they have everything they need for missions and training," said Staff Sgt. Clifford Sisk, 38th RQS logistics flight AFE craftsman. "With all the equipment we handle, we help support all capabilities, including high altitude, mountaineering, land and water mass casualties, night vision, jump operations and airdrop missions."

All three support sections work to support the 38th RQS as one of only four active duty Guardian Angel squadrons in the world. Guardian Angel is a weapons system aimed at recovering isolated military personnel from hostile territories.

"No matter what the mission involves, the operators know the equipment they are launching have been worked on by true professionals," said Captain Peter. "If any of this equipment is not maintained to the highest standards, it could be the difference between life and death.

"These logistics Airmen are led by noncommissioned officers who set them up for success and they all work exceptionally hard to help bring back every last Airman," he added.

In addition to assisting Moody's special operations Airmen, the 38th RQS logistics flight also supports NASA at a transatlantic location in Germany that is able to provide help in the event astronauts must bail from a space shuttle.