1015th Save for Silicon Valley-Based Air National Guard Unit
By Capt. Roderick Bersamina, 129th Rescue Wing
/ Published January 18, 2017
MOFFETT AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Calif. -- On Tuesday the California Air National Guard's 129th Rescue Wing saved the life of a seriously ill 14-year-old boy on board a cruise liner, the STAR PRINCESS, approximately 450 miles off the coast of San Diego, California.
Early Tuesday morning, with the U.S. Coast Guard and Air Force Rescue Coordination Center assistance (AFRCC) coordination, the 129th Rescue Wing launched two HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, each with a 4-man aircrew and a 2-man Guardian Angel (GA) Pararescue team to the STAR PRINCESS.
"The coordination between the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Marine Corps highlights the flexibility and interoperability that we regularly demonstrate when accomplishing our combat rescue mission downrange," said Col. Taft Aujero, 129th Rescue Wing Commander. It is a privilege to be a part of the California National Guard where we hold a dual responsibility to the State of California as well as to the Department of Defense to provide combat search and rescue operations over land or water in both hostile and permissive environments worldwide."
In coordination with the Marine Aerial Refueling Transport Squadron 352 (VMGR 352), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Miramar, a KC-130J aircraft also departed to support with aerial refueling operations. Additionally, the 129th Rescue Wing launched one MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft, with a total of 6 aircrew and a 4-man GA team, approximately 1:50 p.m. to provide refueling and support to the helicopters for the return flight.
"Working closely with the Guardian Angel team, we accomplished our medical objective which was to safely transport the patient from the cruise liner back to shore to Scripps Memorial Hospital," said Lt. Col. Kathryn Hodge, mission medical director and flight surgeon onboard one of the helicopters. "What it takes to coordinate something like this is a massive undertaking and it has to be done safely. Literally hundreds of people are involved."
The GA team hoisted down to the cruise liner from a Pave Hawk helicopter and stabilized the patient before hoisting him on to the helicopter to depart for the mainland. The patient's father was also hoisted to the helicopter. The GA team and Dr. Hodge continued to care for their patient while inside the helicopter until they arrived at Scripps Memorial Hospital.
"It's always good and you feel really rewarded at the end of the day. But that's not why we do it. We do it so that others may live and to save lives however we can," said Master Sgt. Sean Kirsch, Guardian Angel Pararescueman. "When you bring a critical 14 yr. old American boy home to receive better medical care and he makes it there and he's in stable shape or better than when you pick him up, is pretty rewarding."
The 129th Rescue Wing is credited with saving the lives of more than 1,000 people. From arid deserts and snow-covered mountain tops to urban and rural settings, 129th Rescue Wing air guardsmen can reach any destination by land, air or sea. Equipped with MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft, HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters and Guardian Angel teams (Pararescuemen and Combat Rescue Officers), the 129th Rescue Wing conducts combat search and rescue missions, as well as the rescue of distressed persons on board ships, lost or injured hikers, and medical evacuations across the West Coast.
For more information about this rescue or the 129th Rescue Wing, please contact
Capt. Roderick Bersamina, public affairs officer, at 650-603-0760.