Rescue community remembers fallen Pedro 66 Airmen
By Senior Airman Michael Charles, Nellis Public Affairs
/ Published June 09, 2011
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."