1000 Saves - 1000 Heroes
By Col. Steven J. Butow, Commander, 129th Rescue Wing
/ Published May 20, 2013
MOFFETT FEDERAL AIRFIELD, Calif. -- Congratulations to the nearly 1,000 Airmen of the 129th Rescue Wing on achieving 1,000 lives saved since 1975. Your noble efforts and selfless dedication to duty define our wing's relevance and commitment to our Air Force Core Values of Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence In All We Do.
The 129th Rescue Wing achieved an impressive milestone on May 18th when it performed its 1,000th life-saving rescue in the high desert of Southeast Afghanistan. HH-60G alert crews and pararescuemen responded to save the life of an Afghan National policeman critically injured with a gunshot wound. Like so many before him, the soldier was rescued, treated and safely returned to advanced medical care so that he may live another day.
Perhaps more impressive than the 1,000 save milestone is the realization that 70% of these saves have been performed in the last ten years. Only 40% of our saves were performed in combat, the rest were performed here in the homeland across a broad range of environments and conditions. Highlights over the past 30 years include recovering injured climbers from the top of Mount Shasta, rescuing critically ill sailors from the East Pacific, rescuing hurricane survivors from floodwaters, extracting trapped motorists from beneath the collapsed Cyprus structure following the Loma Prieta Earthquake, hoisting flood victims from the Russian River, and saving firemen from wildfires in remote areas throughout the state of California.
While these missions may seem routine, they are far from it. Each mission presents unique challenges that require skill and experience aided by innovation and advanced technology. The blend of talent and diversity uniquely available in the San Francisco Bay Area is key to the wing's success and defines both its culture and place in the Silicon Valley community.
The 129th Rescue Wing is part of an elite force of Airmen that are specifically trained and dedicated to perform the mission of personnel recovery. As such, the wing is often requested to execute missions that are either too risky or beyond the capability of other forces to perform. These heroic deeds would not be possible without the contributions of a larger team of California Air National Guard men and women who volunteer time away from family and their full-time jobs here in Silicon Valley to saves lives.
While we take time to celebrate this proud achievement, we must also pay tribute and honor the memories of 129th Airmen who made the ultimate sacrifice so that others may live. Like those they rescued, the lives of their families were forever changed and we will never forget them.