Weather Watch: coordination behind the rescue

Staff Sgt. Kayla West, 355th Operational Support Squadron weather craftsman at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., delivered a weather brief which aided in the rescue of a man experiencing a life-threatening condition hundreds of miles off the coast of California on Aug. 5, 2022.

The 563rd Rescue Group received a call for help from the 129th Rescue Wing, California Air National Guard, and instantly Airmen from across DM sprang into action, preparing and coordinating overnight. The next morning maintainers along with aircrew from the 79th Rescue Generation Squadron got ready for takeoff.

However, none of this would have been possible without some behind-the-scenes support from the 355th OSS.

“I woke up to our leadership chat requesting a tech. sergeant to come in for a weather briefing, and I was already awake so I offered to head over instead,” said West, “At the time I had no idea what the group was supporting just that they needed some data for a brief.”

Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Vaughn Weber
Staff Sgt. Kayla West, 355th Operational Support Squadron weather craftsman, stands next to a model of an A-10 Thunderbolt II at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Aug. 16, 2022. The data that comes from oceanography, sea states and different weather patterns all contribute to the weather briefs.

 

The data West provided accounted for the refueling of an HC-130J Combat King II, pararescuemen airdropping to the location of the patient, providing critical care and everything the California ANG was planning as well. This eventually accumulated into a weather brief that was able to be distributed to the pilots from the 79th RGS.

“I pulled up sea state information and drop zone information for every hour they requested it, along with cross sectioning data from here to there along the air refueling route,” said West “I went in again on Sunday morning to redeliver the briefing at the request of the pilot who received the weather briefing.”

Weather briefs are not typically as complicated as this one. They consist of aircraft taking off and landing without too much interference, however with this one there were five elements that they do not usually deal with. Along with delivering two weather briefs, West also managed to train up the Airmen on how to complete this type of briefing as well as finding the relevant data.

“Staff Sgt. Kayla West had worked a full week on mid shift and was scheduled to be off Aug. 6-7,” said 1st Lt. Tyler Solomon, 355th OSS Flight commander, “She had woken up after her mid-shift and made the decision to come in instead of another tech. sergeant having to lose sleep by coming in early.”

What makes the Air Force a ready and fit to fight force are the Airmen who focus on putting others ahead of themselves, even if it means working after hours.

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