Rescue Squadron accepts Jolly Green Association Award

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- History and tradition were continued here Saturday when crews from Nellis, while deployed and assigned to the 59th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron in Afghanistan, received the Jolly Green Association Rescue of the Year Award for 2005.

Three of the 12 crew members from the 66th and 58th Rescue Squadrons were present to receive the award at Fort Walton Beach, Fla., during the 37th annual reunion of the Jolly Green Association where they received a standing ovation from more than 100 former rescue personnel.

"I was extremely proud to accept this award on behalf of my crewmates and speak for them during the conference," said Maj. Harold Hicks, 55th Rescue Squadron HH-60 Pavehawk pilot from Davis-Monthan AFB. "It was a little over-whelming sitting there with the amount of heritage and legacy within the room."

The Jolly Green award is presented to the rescue mission crew that best exemplifies extraordinary courage and bravery when in the field.

The two Pavehawk crews exemplified this statement when they were on a rescue mission in Afghanistan to save two U.S. Army personnel and three local nationals trapped in an active minefield after their HUMVEE was destroyed by an anti-tank mine.

In an exhaustingly long mission and foul weather conditions, the crews successfully recovered five personnel and one killed-in-action Soldier after pararescuemen secured the site below and raised the Soldiers on hoists into the helo.

On top of the minefield rescue operation, the crews had to take turns providing cover while a group of potential hostiles began gathering within range of the evacuation.

"The most memorable moment was looking at our pararescueman, Senior Airman Lopaka Mounts, when we asked him if he would hoist into the minefield," said Master Sgt. Robert Dinsmore, 66th Rescue Squadron aerial gunner. "Obviously concerned, but not one second of hesitation, he gave us a thumbs up."

Being hoisted down from the helicopter, the pararescuemen maneuvered through the minefield multiple times in order to secure the personnel below and return them back to safety.

The crews on this mission received the Air Medal, while the pararescuemen received the Air Medal with Valor.

General T. Michael Moseley, Air Force chief of staff, also sent his best wishes to the Airmen at the conference in a letter that stated, "Great job boys; I'm proud to be your Chief, I'm proud to tell your story, and I'm proud of what you've done!"

Both crews of the 66th and 58th Rescue Squadrons that day lived up to their motto, that "These things we do that others may live." Their mission will be forever remembered as it entered the history of the Jolly Green Association.

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