The 66th Rescue Squadron first took to the air on 14 November 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 on 18 January 1958 and reactivated on 1 March 1991 flying the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter. In 1993, the 66 RQS deployed to Operation DESERT STORM, and later deployed to Operations NORTHERN and SOUTHERN WATCH.
Following the events of September 11th, 2001 operations, maintenance, and pararescue personnel combined to deploy as the 66th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron (66 ERQS) to South Central Asia in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF).
In 2003 the 66 ERQS was called on again to support Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF), deploying to a classified location and moving continually forward to four (4) extremely austere forward operating locations. The 66th was the first USAF flying unit operating at Baghdad International Airport. During OIF the Nellis Rescue Team conducted the first combat recovery of a downed fighter crew by a conventional CSAR unit since the Vietnam War.
2 Silver Stars, 5 Bronze Stars, and 25 Distinguished Flying Crosses have been awarded to 66th RQS aircrew for their heroic actions during operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Despite the extremely high operations tempo, the 66 RQS met 100% of its operational taskings during two major contingencies. The pararescue team became the 58 RQS in 2002, and the maintenance squadron became the 763d in 2003. The 763d deactivated on 10 April 2012 and the 823d Maintenance Squadron was activated. The combined efforts of these exemplary units are on duty anywhere they are needed in support of America’s national interests and the global war on terrorism. These Things We Do, That Others May Live.
The 66th Rescue Squadron stood up the first ever Global Response Force in 2015 and is currently deployed in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
“HAEC AGO UT ALII VIVANT” (Latin – Translation: “These things we do, that others may live”)
The mission of the 66th Rescue Squadron is to provide rapidly deployable, expeditionary, and agile combat search and rescue (CSAR) forces to theater CINCs in response to contingency operations worldwide. The 66 RQS conducts peacetime search and rescue (SAR) in support of the National Search and Rescue Plan and the Air Warfare Center. They directly support HH-60G logistical and maintenance support requirements for the USAF Weapons School and Air Combat Command (ACC)-directed operational test missions.
We will be the most capable and reliable personnel recovery force in the world for all peacetime and combat operations. We will be dedicated, professional airmen and experts at employing the HH-60G to effectively recover all isolated personnel day or night and under any conditions. We will continually develop our ability to fight future wars to ensure we are always prepared to provide Combatant Commanders with world class personnel recovery support.
The approximately 130 Airmen of the 66th Rescue Squadron operate the HH-60G
"Pave Hawk" medium-lift Combat Search and Rescue helicopter and provides rapidly deployable full spectrum expeditionary personnel recovery vertical lift capabilities to theater commanders worldwide. They tactically employ the HH-60G helicopter and its crew in hostile environments to recover downed aircrew and isolated personnel during day, night, or marginal weather conditions in contested airspace employing skills such as weapons employment, shipboard operations, and aerial refueling. The squadron also conducts military operations other than war including; civil search and rescue, disaster relief, international aid, and emergency medical evacuation.
(Current as of October 2022)