Airmen from the 55th Rescue Squadron returned from a 125-day deployment in Southwest Asia June 4.
Families and friends awaited the more than 50 Airmen who deployed at the 55th Rescue Squadron hangar and watched as the C-17, Globemaster landed and taxied to its drop-off location. Children, spouses, mother and fathers held up â€œWelcome Homeâ€ signs waiting for their Airmen to emerge from the crowd and walk their way. Faces lit up and eyes watered at the sight of their heroes in their Airmen Battle Uniform finally coming home to them.
Members of the 55th RQS have been constantly rotating deployments for the past three years.
â€œWe have covered every operation in that theater, everywhere from Iraq, Afghanistan and now Southwest Asia,â€ said Senior Master Sgt. Max Rippel, 923rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft support flight superintendent. â€œWe maintained any alert, any crash, anyone who needed us the entire time.â€
A deployed rescue squadron has a total of three hours to report to an alert, the 55th RQS has that time down to 25 minutes.
â€œThe primary duty of the deployed Airmen for the past four months was to be on alert for Combat Search and Rescue missions 24-hours-a-day. They also took care of any other mission that came up along the way,â€ said Master Sgt. Keith Hurst, 55th Helicopter Maintenance Unit section chief.
During their support to Operation Enduring Freedom, aerial gunners and flight engineers had a fire rate of 99 percent with a total of 30,000 .50 cal rounds and 56,000 mini-gun rounds used.
â€œWhile deployed we had a total of 5,712 mission capable hours,â€ Rippel said. â€œThe Airmen were on 24-hour alert operations seven days a week, and we usually have everything on the complex so we donâ€™t have to go far, but there wasnâ€™t any mermites (food storage capabilities)on this deployment so we had to figure out how to break guys up to go to the chow hall. It was a challenge but all of us busted our butts and made it happen.â€
The 55th RQS completed a total of 125 sorties, 296 flight hours and maintained 100 percent mission effectiveness.