Airmen from the 33rd Rescue Squadron’s B Flight returned home to Kadena AB, Japan, on Oct. 6 after four months of operating out of Bagram AB, Afghanistan, in support of US and coalition operations in the Near East nation. Overall, the flight of HH-60G rescue helicopters saved 38 persons during the deployment and logged more than 375 combat hours, with each Pave Hawk pilot accumulating about 95 hours. Capt. Aaron Croft, a pilot with the unit, noted that the helicopters sometimes operated in high-altitude areas that made landings challenging. “[But] this increased our skills for future missions,” he said. During the time at Bagram, the HH-60Gs operated increasingly in concert with other platforms such as A-10s, F-15s, special operations U-28As, and Army AH-64 Apache helicopters. “We had a couple of big missions where a lot more people were involved [than normal],” said Capt. Tom Harley, another 33rd RQS pilot. The HH-60Gs also carried out high-risk medical evacuation missions with the Apaches, when Army medevac assets could not, often in bad weather and at night. (Kadena report by TSgt. Rey Ramon)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.