33rd Rescue Squadron eager for Afghanistan opportunity
July 21, 2007
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa
Less than 90 days after returning a team from Afghanistan, the 33rd Rescue Squadron is sending another back to the war zone.
And it’s an opportunity many in the unit welcome.
“I have a line at my door and I’m turning people away,” squadron commander Lt. Col. Mike Trumpfheller said Wednesday. “They want to get back to where the action is.”
Tech. Sgt. Greg Sisco agreed.
“The sense of accomplishment is definitely there,” Sisco said. “We go there to do what we do — rescue people.”
The squadron is credited with saving 116 lives during its last deployment with the Army in Afghanistan.
The squadron’s Flight A returned from a 130-day deployment to Afghanistan in May, and Flight B is gearing up to return by the end of July, said Trumpfheller, who will be deploying with the flight.
A contingent from the Okinawa-based 718 Aircraft Maintenance Squadron also is deploying to support Flight B.
About 30 airmen with Flight B and three of the squadron’s 10 HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters are scheduled to deploy for 160 days to provide medical evacuation support for the Army as part of “in-lieu tasking,” he said.
In-lieu tasking is an effort to relieve the Army and Marine Corps, both of which have been heavily involved in operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom, Trumpfheller explained, by providing like capabilities from Air Force and Navy elements.
The squadron’s mission is to conduct combat rescue operations, which requires the same skill sets inherent in medical evacuations, said Capt. Jason Gingrich, commander for Flight B.
Gingrich has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan several times since 2002 and said that’s typical for most airmen who work with the Pave Hawk.
Only three of the deploying airmen have yet to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan, he said.
One of those is 1st Lt. Ryan Coates, a co-pilot, who admitted he is both nervous and excited about the deployment.
“To hear about all the missions going on overseas, and we train for these missions every day,” Coates said. “So it is a neat opportunity to get to go ahead and do the mission.”
Coates has been asking around about life in Afghanistan since learning of the deployment. He said he has heard good things.
“Job satisfaction is very high and it’s an exciting mission over there,” he said. “Some of the folks who just came back are very eager to go back because they believe in the mission.”