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Rescue community remembers fallen Pedro 66 Airmen

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Capt. Anthony Simone, his wife Andrea and Master Sgt. Christopher Aguilera look upon the newly revealed memorial plaque for rescue crew PEDRO 66 after the memorial here June 9, 2011.  Capt. Simone and Master Sgt. Aguilera were injured when their HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crashed in southwest Afghanistan June 9, 2010 killing five of their fellow crew members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Taylor Worley)(Released)

Capt. Anthony Simone, his wife Andrea and Master Sgt. Christopher Aguilera look upon the newly revealed memorial plaque for rescue crew PEDRO 66 after a memorial ceremony at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., June 9, 2011. Captain Simone and Sergeant Aguilera were injured when their HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crashed in southwest Afghanistan June 9, 2010 killing five of their fellow crew members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Taylor Worley/Released)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Mr. Chester Wisniewski and his wife Beverly, parents of fallen HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter pilot Capt. David A. Wisniewski, touch their son's name on a memorial plaque dedicated to the crew of PEDRO 66.The plaque was revealed during a one year anniversary memorial ceremony honoring the fallen crew members here June 9, 2011.  The PEDRO 66 crew's HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crashed in southwest Afghanistan June 9 2010 killing five of the crew and critically injuring two. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Taylor Worley)

Chester Wisniewski and his wife Beverly, parents of fallen HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter pilot Capt. David A. Wisniewski, touch their son's name on a memorial plaque dedicated to the crew of PEDRO 66. The plaque was revealed during a one year anniversary memorial ceremony honoring the fallen crew members at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., June 9, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Taylor Worley/Released)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Family, friends, coworkers, and members of the Nellis community gather to honor and remember the crew of PEDRO 66, during a one year memorial service here June 9.  The PEDRO 66 crew's HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crashed in southwest Afghanistan June 9, 2010 killing five of the crew and critically injuring two. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Taylor Worley)

Family, friends, coworkers, and members of the Nellis Air Force Base community gather to honor and remember the crew of PEDRO 66, during a one year memorial service on base June 9. The PEDRO 66 crew's HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crashed in southwest Afghanistan June 9, 2010 killing five of the crew and critically injuring two. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Taylor Worley/Released)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Chief Master Sgt. Vincent L. Marler, 99th Air Base Wing Command Chief, and Chief Master Sgt. Frank Batten, Command Chief for the 23rd Wing Moody Air Force Base, Ga., read a memorial plaque dedicated to the crew of PEDRO 66, that was revealed during a one year anniversary memorial  honoring the fallen crew members here June 9, 2011.  The PEDRO 66 crew's HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crashed in southwest Afghanistan June 9, 2010 killing five of the crew and critically injuring two. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Taylor Worley)

Chief Master Sgt. Vincent L. Marler, 99th Air Base Wing command chief, and Chief Master Sgt. Frank Batten, command chief for the 23rd Wing Moody Air Force Base, Ga., read a memorial plaque dedicated to the crew of PEDRO 66, that was revealed during a one year anniversary memorial honoring the fallen crew members at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., June 9, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Taylor Worley/Released)

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- The 66th Rescue Squadron held a ceremony for the crew of Pedro 66 June 9 at the 763rd Maintenance Squadron hangar, in remembrance of the five Airmen who lost their lives after an HH-60 Pave Hawk crash last year.

Lt. Col. Daniel Jefferies, 563rd Rescue Group deputy commander, presided over the one-year-anniversary memorial of the crash -- the first time all Pedro 66 Airmen killed in the line of duty have been honored in a ceremony together.

"These extraordinary Airmen have fulfilled the promise of the rescue community: these things we do, so others may live," said Colonel Jefferies. "Their spirit will always be an inspiration,""

Master Sgt. Christopher Aguilera and Capt. Anthony Simone, two survivors from the crash, were in attendance to pay tribute to their fallen comrades.

Friends and family gathered to remember the lives of  and 1st Lt. Joel Gentz, who was assigned to the 58th Rescue Squadron; Capt. David Wisniewski and Staff Sgt. David Smith who were assigned to the 66 RQS; and Tech. Sgt Michael Flores and Senior Airman Benjamin White, who were assigned to the 48th Rescue Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Maj. Robert Lindblom, the deployed director of operations during the incident, unveiled a memorial plaque to be displayed in the courtyard on the north side of the 66 RQS building.

Last year, while conducting a casualty evacuation operation in southeastern Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, four of the seven members were killed when their helicopter crashed. Captain Wisniewski died from injuries sustained in the accident nearly a month later.

"The sacrifice of these brave Airmen has made a huge impact in the rescue community and their families, said Col. Gary Henderson, 23rd Wing commander. "It is a sad event, but it has made us closer as a rescue community and more dedicated to the job we do."

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