823rd MXS vital to world-wide rescue operations

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Years of violent conflict and natural disasters has led to catastrophic situations around the world. These catastrophic events call for humanitarian relief missions, many of which are conducted by the U.S. Air Force and its HH-60G Pave Hawks and crews.

The Pave Hawk has a long history of use in contingency operations around the world. They are a prominent part of combat search and rescue, international flood relief, as well as disaster relief operations and many more.

The 823rd Maintenance Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base houses approximately 18 Pave Hawks and almost 400 Airmen, providing logistical support for the U.S. Air Force Weapons School and Detachment 1 of the 18th Flight Test Squadron.

"Our mission is to deliver safe and reliable HH-60G Pave Hawk aircraft, as well as effective Airmen, to conduct personnel recovery missions in any environment worldwide," said Staff Sgt. Gabrial Marcus, 823rd MXS shift supervisor.   

In order to do this, the 823rd MXS maintains, services and inspects Pave Hawk aircraft. The squadron must plan, schedule and direct both scheduled and unscheduled maintenance to maintain a mission-ready status - critical to their rescue mission.

"In terms of keeping the Pave Hawks air worthy and being critical to the mission, simply said, the HH-60 is the U.S Air Force's premier (combat search and rescue) mission aircraft," said Master Sgt. Ian Holmes, 823rd MXS, Helicopter Maintenance Unit program manager. "The ability to maintain airworthiness at home allows for the aircrews to conduct realistic combat training."

The 823rd MXS provides intermediate, organizational and some depot-level maintenance on the Pave Hawk to keep it airworthy. Before every flight, maintainers perform pre-flight inspections to ensure the aircraft is safe and ready to fly.

According to Master Sgt. Michael Tucci, 823rd MXS production superintendent, other than requiring fuel and ammo, the 823rd MXS is almost self-sufficient, as the squadron has their own aerospace ground equipment and essentially everything they need to be an independent unit.

Holmes explained that the 823d MXS being a self-sufficient unit is attributed to the fact the squadron has the capability to deploy anywhere in the world with no notice to locations that do not have base-support activities for extended periods of time.

"Self-sufficiency matters greatly for the mission because we are not limited to factors that would prevent us fulfilling our role of supporting those who have to conduct clandestine operations anytime, anyplace," Holmes said.

The squadron is a vital component of CSAR operations because they provide mission-ready Pave Hawks used by fellow rescue units on life-saving missions.

"Here at Nellis, we support the largest HH-60 fleet in the Air Force," said Holmes. "In addition to being the biggest, we are also the most robust unit due to our squadron supporting three distinct flying units: the 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron, 34th Weapons Squadron and the 66th Rescue Squadron."

Senior Airman Howard Chen, 823rd MXS communications navigations avionics technician, said every day is an exciting day at work. Chen also said he couldn't be more proud to be part of such an outstanding squadron that has a unique mission of supporting humanitarian relief and rescue operations.