FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --
The 36th Rescue Squadron commemorated the successful completion of its 700th save at a ceremony held Sept. 20 at Fairchild Air Force Base.
The ceremony included a Bell UH-1N Iroquois ‘Huey’ helicopter performing a search and rescue demonstration, a helicopter fly-over, and the unveiling of a plaque commemorating the 700th save that took place on Aug. 12.
“For 50 years, crews from this unit have trained or been on alert almost every single day,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Doberman, 36th RQS commander. “We’re recognizing a milestone, and a singular accomplishment, but we’re also recognizing what we do here every day. Seven hundred is a big number and that means 700 people’s lives were directly affected by what we do here.”
The 36th RQS began its rescue operations in 1971 by, providing support to Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape specialists as well as civilian emergency search and rescue coverage of the Inland Northwest region, which includes Oregon, Montana, Idaho and Washington state.
“We got the call and within an hour we were able to get clearance, get blades spinning, extract the patient and successfully deliver them to a hospital,” said Capt. Benjamin Elias, 36th RQS helicopter pilot. “Reaching this milestone of 700 saves is pretty significant, so being able to play a role in reaching it creates a sense of pride for myself and members of the squadron.”
The 36th RQS is the only operational rescue squadron flying UH-1N helicopters within the United States that are qualified in performing 24-hour medical evacuation alert, water rescue, cargo sling and hoist operations.
“Our capabilities are what makes us stand out as an operational rescue unit,” said Master Sgt. Joshua Walker, 36th RQS operations superintendent. “We have some of the latest radar technology and we are the only unit that has all of the qualifications necessary to complete our missions, and perform operations in the austere environments of the Inland Northwest.”
Through their unique mission capabilities and local community partnerships, the 36th RQS is able to continue providing support to all SERE, Combat Rescue Units on base and local emergency services ensuring the success of the rescue mission and safety of those in danger, living up to the unit’s motto: “That Others May Live.”
“It has taken us 15 years to get from save 600 to save 700 which is a feat that is unsurpassed by anyone else in the Air Force, and we’re very proud of that.” Walker said.