563rd RQG trains for the high-end fight

Two U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawks fly over Arizona, Oct. 7, 2020. The HH-60s are assigned to the 55th Rescue Squadron and are tasked to execute personnel recovery and other rescue missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob T. Stephens)

The 563rd Rescue Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., conducted a variety of mission training sorties from Sept. 28 to Oct. 9, 2020, across Arizona and California.

Airmen from the 48th, 55th, 68th and 79th Rescue Squadrons worked together to conduct airdrops, pararescue jumps, helicopter air-to-air refueling and other combat capabilities.

A U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk receives fuel from a HC-130J Combat King II over Arizona, Oct. 7, 2020. This helicopter air-to-air refuel mission was part of ongoing training across the 563rd Rescue Group to ensure combat ready rescue forces anywhere, anytime. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jacob T. Stephens)

“From Sept. 28 through Oct. 2, the 79th RQS conducted high altitude water and land airdrops with pararescuemen from the 48th and 68th RQS,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Kyle Swengel, 79th RQS pilot. “From Oct. 5-9, the 79th RQS refueled CH-53 Super Stallions from the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One and HH-60G Pave Hawks from the 55th RQS and the 305th RQS.”

This training not only highlighted the 563rd Rescue Group’s interoperability across its multiple squadrons and mission sets, but also the group’s ability to support missions across different branches of the Department of Defense.

“This is one of many training events required to be the world’s best rescue Airmen,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Andrew Gray, 563rd Rescue Group deputy commander. “It takes everyone involved working together to pull off a successful mission, including air refueling. The ability to air refuel increases the range of the helicopter which allows them to perform rescue missions in places others can’t.”

Honing these skills helps further the combat capabilities of the 563rd RQG and its Airmen. In doing this, the group ensures it is ready to answer the call any time they are needed with the ability to work seamlessly with its mission partners.

“A successful rescue involves the coordinated efforts of multiple units in high-risk, denied environments,” Swengel said. “Everything we do, from high-altitude airdrops to air-to-air refueling to flying with night vision goggles, involves some level of risk. By flying these demanding sorties, we lower this risk and improve our crews’ ability to deploy at a moment’s notice.”

Rescue Airmen from across the 355th Wing are a critical part of the DoD’s ability to successfully execute the mission downrange. These Airmen must be ready to go into a potentially degraded, austere environment to save someone on one of their worst days.

“These Airmen are tasked to deploy anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice to ensure every American and friendly force comes home safely,” Gray said. “This mission would never be successful without close cooperation between the squadrons here at home station, and these unsung heroes are working hard every day to make sure they are ready to protect us.”

An Airman looks out of an HC-130J Combat King II over the Pacific Ocean, Oct. 1, 2020. Airmen from the 563rd Rescue Group constantly train to maintain and build on their state of high-end readiness. (Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Jacob T. Stephens)
A U.S. Air Force Airman from the 79th Rescue Squadron prepares to perform an airdrop over the Pacific Ocean, Oct. 1, 2020. The 79th RQS trained with pararescuemen from the 68th RQS and HH-60G Pave Hawks from the 55th RQS, demonstrating the 563rd Rescue Group’s interoperability across multiple squadrons and mission sets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Blake J. Gonzales)