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Angels on-call: 1st Expeditionary Rescue Group - Operating Location Alpha

A special missions aviator assigned to 46th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron operates the hoist from an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter as part of a training scenario November 22, 2017, in an undisclosed location.  The 46th ERQS provides combat search and rescue capabilities across the region in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz)

A special missions aviator assigned to 46th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron operates the hoist from an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter as part of a training scenario November 22, 2017, in an undisclosed location. The 46th ERQS provides combat search and rescue capabilities across the region in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz)

A pararescueman awaits the arrival of an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter
assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron during a training
scenario November 22, 2017, in an undisclosed location. Employing air power
across the region in support of Operation Inherent Resolve requires trained
operators be on-alert to respond should an aircrew ever become isolated in
hostile territory. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz

A pararescueman awaits the arrival of an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron during a training scenario November 22, 2017, in an undisclosed location. Employing air power across the region in support of Operation Inherent Resolve requires trained operators be on-alert to respond should an aircrew ever become isolated in hostile territory. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz

A pilot assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron checks avionics
systems on an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter prior to a sortie November 22,
2017, in an undisclosed location. Combat search and rescue aircrews
frequently train in low-light conditions to keep skills sharp should they
ever be called to recover isolated personnel under the cover of night. (U.S.
Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz)

A pilot assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron checks avionics systems on an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter prior to a sortie November 22, 2017, in an undisclosed location. Combat search and rescue aircrews frequently train in low-light conditions to keep skills sharp should they ever be called to recover isolated personnel under the cover of night. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz)

A special missions aviator assigned to 46th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron,
inspects the blades on an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter tail rotor prior to a
sortie November 22, 2017, in an undisclosed location. Rotor blades are
subjected to massive amounts of force in-flight and require frequent
inspections and repairs in order to ensure safe flight. (U.S. Air Force
photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz)

A special missions aviator assigned to 46th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, inspects the blades on an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter tail rotor prior to a sortie November 22, 2017, in an undisclosed location. Rotor blades are subjected to massive amounts of force in-flight and require frequent inspections and repairs in order to ensure safe flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz)

Senior Airman Jarrod Williams, an HH-60G Pave Hawk crew chief assigned to
the 801st Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, troubleshoots avionics systems
November 21, 2017, in an undisclosed location. Maintenance Airmen work
shifts around the clock to ensure rescue teams can rely on safe,
mission-capable aircraft in the event of a call. (U.S. Air Force photo by
Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz)

Senior Airman Jarrod Williams, an HH-60G Pave Hawk crew chief assigned to the 801st Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, troubleshoots avionics systems November 21, 2017, in an undisclosed location. Maintenance Airmen work shifts around the clock to ensure rescue teams can rely on safe, mission-capable aircraft in the event of a call. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz)

Staff Sgt. Kiley Everett, an HH-60G Pave Hawk crew chief assigned to the
801st Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, troubleshoots avionics systems
November 21, 2017, in an undisclosed location. Difficult weather and
lighting conditions require combat search and rescue aircraft equipped with
advanced avionics systems - and trained specialists capable of maintaining
them. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz)

Staff Sgt. Kiley Everett, an HH-60G Pave Hawk crew chief assigned to the 801st Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, troubleshoots avionics systems November 21, 2017, in an undisclosed location. Difficult weather and lighting conditions require combat search and rescue aircraft equipped with advanced avionics systems - and trained specialists capable of maintaining them. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz)

Staff Sgt. Robert Wainright, an HH-60G Pave Hawk crew chief assigned to the
801st Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, works to replace a pair of
hydraulic lines November 22, 2017, in an undisclosed location. Demanding
desert conditions and in-flight vibrations inherent to helicopters are
especially taxing on aircraft components, which require frequent inspections
to ensure safe operation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua
Kleinholz)

Staff Sgt. Robert Wainright, an HH-60G Pave Hawk crew chief assigned to the 801st Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, works to replace a pair of hydraulic lines November 22, 2017, in an undisclosed location. Demanding desert conditions and in-flight vibrations inherent to helicopters are especially taxing on aircraft components, which require frequent inspections to ensure safe operation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz)

An HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Rescue
Squadron waits on alert status November 22, 2017, in an undisclosed
location. The primary mission of the Pave Hawk is to conduct day or night
personnel recovery operations in hostile environments to recover isolated
individuals during war or in humanitarian crises. (U.S. Air Force photo by
Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz)

An HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron waits on alert status November 22, 2017, in an undisclosed location. The primary mission of the Pave Hawk is to conduct day or night personnel recovery operations in hostile environments to recover isolated individuals during war or in humanitarian crises. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz)

Maintainers assigned to the 801st Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron work
together on HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter engine components November 22, 2017,
in an undisclosed location. Maintenance professionals of the 801st EMXS must
keep as many aircraft as possible prepared to fly in less that 30 minutes.
(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz)

Maintainers assigned to the 801st Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron work together on HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter engine components November 22, 2017, in an undisclosed location. Maintenance professionals of the 801st EMXS must keep as many aircraft as possible prepared to fly in less that 30 minutes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz)

HH-60G Pave Hawk Helicopters assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Rescue
Squadron, return to base following the completion of a sortie, October 24,
2017 in an undisclosed location. Rescue teams-comprised of pilots, special
missions aviators, and pararescuemen - work together to maintain a constant
state of readiness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 10 of 11

HH-60G Pave Hawk Helicopters assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, return to base following the completion of a sortie, October 24, 2017 in an undisclosed location. Rescue teams-comprised of pilots, special missions aviators, and pararescuemen - work together to maintain a constant state of readiness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz)

A special missions aviator assigned to 46th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron,
prepares an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter for a sortie November 22, 2017, in
an undisclosed location. SMAs are responsible for the inspection and upkeep
of a number of components on the aircraft, as well as the operation of
on-board weapons systems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua
Kleinholz)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 11 of 11

A special missions aviator assigned to 46th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, prepares an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter for a sortie November 22, 2017, in an undisclosed location. SMAs are responsible for the inspection and upkeep of a number of components on the aircraft, as well as the operation of on-board weapons systems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Kleinholz)

SOUTHWEST ASIA --

Coalition aircrews flying out of multiple locations throughout Southwest Asia in support of Operation Inherent Resolve can sleep a little more peacefully at night knowing that the men and women of the 1st Expeditionary Rescue Group - Operating Location Alpha stand ready to assist in their darkest hour.

 

Operating out of a compound centrally located to the fight, HH-60G Pave Hawk pilots, special missions aviators, pararescuemen, maintainers, and a small team of support staff work 24/7 to maintain readiness for a call nobody wants to receive.  The unit consists of professionals from the 46th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, 52nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron Detachment 1, and 801st Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Detachment 1.

 

“Our combat search and rescue capabilities allow other Airmen out there flying to do their jobs confidently, because they know that we’ll be there to pick them up if anything unfortunate happens,” said a 46th ERQS pilot. “We maintain a constant alert posture so that we always have teams either on-alert and ready to go, or resting up and staying fresh.”

 

At home and abroad, their mission is to provide rapidly deployable, expeditionary, and agile CSAR forces to theater commanders in response to contingency operations worldwide. Rescue teams are typically comprised of two pilots operating the aircraft; two special missions aviators responsible for various inspections, in-flight tasks and on-board weapons employment; and a team of pararescue professionals trained in all aspects of personnel recovery and medical treatment in combat environments. These specialists that make up the Air Force rescue community realize that while their services may not be needed often, the gravely serious nature of their work means that complacency is never an option.

 

“The camaraderie among everybody here is very strong, and expectations for each other are very high,” said a 52nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron pararesecue team lead. “We maintain a rigorous training cycle. Though our primary focus will always be the recovery of the isolated person on the ground, we also make time to train to our other mission sets. We’re constantly preparing for what the next fight could bring, or what the current fight could develop into.”

 

Mission accomplishment though, starts on the ground. The success of the unit depends entirely on another crucial part of the team in aircraft maintenance, and their ability to keep a small fleet of aircraft ready at all times. Demanding desert conditions and in-flight vibrations inherent to helicopters are especially taxing on aircraft components, leaving no room for lapses in attention to detail for maintenance professionals powering through 12-hour shifts.

 

“After each flight the aircrew goes over the bird and we can get specific issues addressed pretty quickly,” said Senior Airman Cody Dost, 801st Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron crew chief. “We do 3-day pre-flights, we check the hoist every single time it’s used, and we’re responsible for periodic inspections of every component on the aircraft.”

 

The 1st ERG- OLA is a small unit of Airmen trained in a wide range of specialties, coming together with intense focus on one very specific goal. The effect of their presence is difficult to display in numbers and charts – but to coalition forces in harm’s way, there is no doubt as to their impact.

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