09 June 2011
Today, a couple of messages came in from Air Force Combat Search and Rescue personnel. The first message, reprinted below, caused me to stop and read it a couple of times. It is important to note that these Air Force personnel are part of the teams that get our warriors off the battlefields and into the trauma centers in under one hour, on average. In fact, last week the average was less than 40 minutes from call to hospital. That is incredible. Such dedication is not without cost. Rest in Peace our Brothers.
The message below came in today:
On this day exactly one year ago this happen.
6/9/2010 - Air Force Combat Search and Rescue call sign Pedro 66 and Pedro 67 launched from Bastion Afghanistan in southern Afghanistan on their 3rd alert scramble of the day. Pedro 66/67 arrived on scene to recover the critically injured British Marine. The two Black Hawks immediately came under enemy fire resulting in a critically damaged tail rotor on Pedro 66. Still airborne the crew of Pedro 66 attempted to fly the hobbled bird away from ground forces to ensure no other Marines would be injured. After clearing the Landing Zone and civilian houses the aircraft became uncontrollable and Pedro 66 crashed. Pedro 67 was able to save 3 Airmen immediately along with the injured Marine. Tragically 4 Airmen perished that day: 1st LT Joel Gentz, and SSgt David Smith from the 58th and 66th Rescue Squadrons at Nellis AFB, NV and TSgt Michael Flores, and Senior Airman Benjamin White from the 48th Rescue Squadron Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. Capt. David A. Wisniewski (Aircraft Commander) also from the 66th RQS at Nellis would never wake from his coma and died 23 days later. 2 survivors Capt. Anthony Simone and MSgt Christopher Aguilera are still in recovery. Capt. Simone will never be the same due to his injuries and is with family and friends in Chicago, Illinois. MSgt Aguilera is continuing to get better and is working his way back to flying status.