July 18, 2016 (by SrA Jake Carter) - For a pararescue Airmen, there is one simple creed that they live by, ‘That others may live’. Whether those “others” are down range or are on American soil in a training environment, the 79th Rescue Squadron, from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona came to Nellis to participate in Red Flag 16-3 so they can uphold that creed.
USAF HC-130J # 09-5709 from 79 RQS, Davis-Monthan AFB, sits idly on the Nellis flight-line before preparing to take-off for a training sortie during Red Flag 16-3 July 13. [USAF photo by SrA Jake Carter]
For three weeks, the Airmen of the 79th RQS will train and integrate with other units from around the world and military where they can apply the new found skills in a deployed environment.
“The biggest thing I'm hoping my aircrew take away from Red Flag is total force integration. As combat rescue, our downrange mission to protect the combat forces performing strikes and air defense, but often it is from a forward base in the area of responsibility,” said Maj. Edward Montgomery, 79th RQS detachment commander. “To be able to integrate and plan side-by-side with the actual strikers and fighters and learn their perspectives and mission considerations in a way that we rarely get to do downrange, which makes this experience invaluable for us as Rescue.”
While working side-by-side with strikers and fighters, the 79th RQS will also integrate with members from the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape career field.
“While we are participating in Red Flag, we will be integrating with SERE members,” said Senior Airman Joshua Snapp, 923rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental systems journeyman, who works hand-in-hand with the 79th RQS. “At home station, we usually work with pararescue. But it’s great when we come to Red Flag because when I was here last, we were able to integrate with Australians when they also had C-130’s so we were able to work hand-in-hand with one another.”
With rescue being the main mission for the 79th RQS while participating in Red Flag, Montgomery wants to educate the other air capabilities of the RQS limitations and capabilities.
“Our mission is practice reactive personnel recovery, as well taking part in deliberately planned personnel recovery task force,” said Montgomery. “On top of that, I believe our other mission is to educate other communities on Rescue's own limitations and capabilities, so that, should we be involved in a reactive event downrange, all parties are better poised for success.”
During the exercise, the HC-130J, assigned to the 79th RQS will be suppling aerial refueling to helicopters participating in Red Flag 16-3.
“During the exercise for rescue, our mindset is getting the plane ready, because at any point something could happen and at that time we have to be ready when the time comes,” said Snapp. “Also while we are here, we will be conducting aerial refueling for the helicopters where we have two aerial refueling pods that we can use to refuel them.”
With Snapp also deploying twice in his career so far, he considers Red Flag a great exercise that mirrors a deployment scenario where it will help Airmen.
“This exercise is almost the same type of high tempo operations as a deployment. I’ve deployed twice already and this is almost the exact same thing as a deployment,” said Snapp. “You have to meet tanker times, time to drop people and we fly everyday so this will help the younger Airmen get ready for future deployments and for the older Airmen it is a refresher that will help us when we deploy again.”
With the high tempo training, Montgomery sees this opportunity as the best training available for his Airmen to be participating in with a deployment on the horizon.
“Red Flag is a great training event for our aircrew, especially because right now we are a very young community,” said Montgomery. “The majority of my aircrew have never been to Red Flag and have never deployed, so the lessons that we're learning here will be directly applied to an upcoming deployment. In this regard, there is no better training for us to be participating in.”