Library Fact Sheets
66TH RESCUE SQUADRON|
Printable Fact Sheet
The primary mission of the 66th Rescue Squadron is world-wide combat rescue in support of combat air forces. The 66 RQS is one of six Air Force active-duty HH-60 combat rescue units and is geared for worldwide deployment.
The 66 RQS performs other vital functions in addition to worldwide combat rescue. The unit's secondary mission is to provide rescue support for air operations over the Nellis Range Complex and backup rescue for civilian agencies in the local area and the greater Southwestern United States.
Depending on the mission, a typical rescue crew may include a pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, aerial gunner and two pararescuemen. These Pararescue Jumpers, or "PJs," are qualified as combat paramedics, scuba divers, parachutists, mountain climbers and survivalists.
The unit provides rapidly-deployable combat search and rescue (CSAR) forces to theater CINCs worldwide and conducts peacetime search and rescue in support of the National Search and Rescue Plan and the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center.
The 66 RQS also directly supports HH-60G logistical and maintenance support requirements for the U.S. Air Force Weapons School and Air Combat Command-directed operational test missions.
The 66th Rescue Squadron first took to the air Nov. 14, 1952, at Royal Air Base Manston, England, flying C-119 Flying Boxcar transports, H-19 Chickasaw helicopters and SA-16 Albatross seaplanes. The unit deactivated Jan. 18, 1958, and remained inactive for 33 years.
The 66 RQS was reborn March 1, 1991, to create the first in a new era of worldwide-deployable combat rescue units flying the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter. The squadron's primary mission of combat search and rescue is markedly enhanced by the Pave Hawk's ability to operate in adverse weather, both day and night.
In 1993, the 66 RQS became the first Air Force rescue unit to deploy to a combat zone since the Vietnam conflict when their CSAR expertise was needed in Operation SOUTHERN WATCH over southern Iraq.
Following the events of September 11th, 2001 operations, maintenance, and pararescue personnel combined to deploy as the 66th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron to South Central Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
In 2003, the 66 RQS was called on again to support Operation Iraqi Freedom, deploying to a classified location and moving continually forward to four extremely austere forward operating locations. The 66 RQS was the first USAF flying unit operating at Baghdad International Airport. From there, the Nellis rescue team conducted the first combat recovery of a downed fighter crew by a conventional CSAR unit since the Vietnam War.
The 66 RQS stayed in place to support Operation New Dawn through its completion in December of 2011; and was the last USAF flying unit station in Iraq to leave.
The unit continues to deploy almost non-stop in support of ongoing operations in Southwest and South Central Asia, providing critical CSAR coverage anywhere vital U.S. interests are at risk.
The 66 RQS has participated in several exercises and operational contingencies since its reactivation. Exercises Desert Rescue at Fallon Naval Air Station, Nevada, Quick Force at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, as well as deployments to North Island, California for open-ocean CSAR training, and high altitude, snow operations deployments to Hill AFB, have provided realistic training for the unit. Red Flag exercises taking place periodically at Nellis AFB are frequently included in squadron operations for additional training opportunities. The support the 66 RQS provides to training events such as these is scheduled to continue well into the foreseeable future.
Two Silver Star medals, 5 Bronze Stars, and 24 Distinguished Flying Crosses were awarded to aircrew for their heroic actions during operations in Afghanistan.
Despite the extremely high operations tempo, the 66 RQS met 100% of its operational taskings during two major contingencies in two years. The pararescue team became the 58 RQS in 2002. The 763d Maintenance Squadron stood up in 2003 as maintenance support, and was renamed 823d Maintenance Squadron in May 2012.
The combined efforts of these exemplary units are on duty anywhere they are needed in support of America's national interests.
(Current as of June 2012)
USAF Fact Sheet
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada 89191-7078
Phone (702) 652-2750
FAX (702) 652-9838