920th Rescue Wing

920th Rescue Wing

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=920th Rescue Wing

dates= 15 January 1963 — present
country=United States
branch=Air Force
type=Combat Search and Rescue
command_structure=Air Force Reserve Command
current_commander=Colonel [http://www.920rqw.afrc.af.mil/library/biographies/bio.asp?id=8358 Steve Kirkpatrick]
garrison=Patrick Air Force Base

The 920th Rescue Wing (920 RQW) is a wing of the United States Air Force based at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida.


Located at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, the 920th Rescue Wing is the Air Force Reserve Command's premier combat search and rescue unit. The wing trains and equips over 1,200 Airmen to locate and recover U.S. Armed Forces personnel during military operations. Additional missions include providing rescue support for NASA Space Shuttle missions, providing search and rescue support for civilians who are lost or in distress and lending support in humanitarian and disaster relief operations. Most recently (FY 2008) the 920th Rescue Wing's subsidiary squadrons, the 301 Rescue Squadron and the 39th Rescue Squadrons, have been the leading civilian rescue and relief for mother natures recent disasters upon south east Texas, Lauisiana, and parts of Mississppi to include Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi. Both hurricanes Hannah and Ike have reaked their havoc upon the states and the 301st Rescue Squadron was right on time with their HH-60 Pave Hawk Helicopters and with the 39th Rescue Squadron's HC-130 Hurcules Airplanes refuling tactics, the helicopters can remain in mid air for the most proficient life saving abilities. Pararescue jumpers from the 301st are deployed from the helicopters to rescue the downed civilians; moto being, "... that others may live!"


The 920th Rescue Wing (RQW) traces its history and lineage to not one, but actually two distinct organizations within the Air Force Reserve.

The first of these was the 920th Troop Carrier Group, later 920th Tactical Airlift Group (920 TAG). Established in 1963 at Memphis International Airport, Tennessee, the 920th in its previous pre-rescue mission iteration trained for and performed military airlift missions from 1963-1965 and 1973-1975, initially with C-123 Provider and later with C-130 Hercules aircraft as part of the 445th Military Airlift Wing and 459th Tactical Airlift Wing, both at Memphis and at its subsequent base of Keesler AFB, Mississippi. Later redesignated as the 920th Weather Reconnaissance Group, it then flew weather reconnaissance missions with WC-130 Hercules aircraft, including flying into hurricanes from 1976-1983 as part of the 403rd Rescue and Weather Reconnaissance Wing at Keesler.

The second organization, which has an even longer history, serves as the basis for the wing's current mission. That unit, the 301st Rescue Squadron, was established on 9 Mar 1956 as the Air Force Reserve's first rescue squadron. This original squadron, which still exists as an operational flying squadron within the current wing, was initially based in a military cantonement area at Miami International Airport prior to relocating to nearby Homestead Air Force Base in 1960.

The squadron's legacy includes the first Air Force Reserve rescue in January 1957; participating in NASA's manned space flight rescue contingency operations beginning with Freedom 7, the first manned Mercury launch in 1961; rescuing 137 South Florida residents during the 18-day humanitarian operation following Hurricane Andrew in August 1992; and on one day in March 1993, saving 93 elderly residents from rising flood waters at their Tampa area retirement community. The 920th routinely searches the Caribbean for downed aircraft and retrieves critically ill sailors from ships hundreds of miles out in the Atlantic.

Most recently, airmen of the 920th Rescue Wing, with aid from the U.S. Coast Guard, made a daring rescue of 28 British seamen from their sinking merchant vessel 270 miles off the east coast of Florida. In 2005, the wing's HC-130 and HH-60 flight crews recorded more than 1,000 lives saved during disaster operations along the Louisiana/Mississippi/Alabama Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The wing's flight crews fly in weather conditions which often test man and machine or at night using night-vision goggle (NVG) technology. The 920th completes arduous, over-water rescues which frequently require the unit's HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters to be mid-air refueled by their HC-130P/N Hercules tanker aircraft -- a capability not shared with U.S. Coast Guard HH-60J helicopters.

The wing is also fully integrated into the Air Force's Air and Space Expeditionary Force (AEF) construct and has routinely deployed the former NAS Keflavik, Iceland in support of NATO operations, to various locations in Southwest Asia in support of Operations DESERT STORM and SOUTHERN WATCH, and to Iraq and Djbouti in support of Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM.

Originally constituted as the 301st Air Rescue Squadron on 9 Mar 1956, the organization was redesignated as the 301st Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron on 18 Jan 1966. It was renamed the 301st Air Rescue Squadron for a second time on 1 Apr 1990 and then redesignated as the 301st Rescue Squadron on 1 Feb 1992. In August 1992, the squadron evacuated all flyable aircraft assets from their then-home station of Homestead Air Force Base pending the landfall of Hurricane Andrew. Relocating to Patrick Air Force Base following the destruction of Homestead AFB, the unit permanently changed its home station to Patrick AFB in 1993 rather than return to the redesignated Homestead Air Reserve Base.

Originally established as an amphibious aircraft unit with the venerable HU-16 Albatross, the 301st eventually became a combined fixed-wing and rotary-wing organization, operating both the HC-130 Hercules and HH-3 Jolly Green Giant until 1991, when the HH-3Es were replaced by the current HH-60G Pave Hawk. In 1997, five years after the unit's 1992 relocation to Patrick AFB, the HH-60G portion of the unit was retained as the 301st Rescue Squadron, while the HC-130P/N portion of the squadron was established as a separate unit designated as the 39th Rescue Squadron. Together, they formed the nucleus of the newly created 920th Rescue Group, subordinate to the Air Force Reserve's 939th Rescue Wing at Portland International Airport/Air Reserve Station, Oregon. In 2000, the 939th was redesignated as the 939th Air Refueling Wing and began to divest itself from the rescue mission and convert to KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft. As a result, in 2003 the 920th Rescue Group became the 920th Rescue Wing and parent unit for all combat search and rescue organizations in the Air Force Reserve Command.

In 2004, the 920 RQW's Regular Air Force gaining command was briefly reassigned from Air Combat Command (ACC) to Air Force Special Operations Command] (AFSOC). This was done as part of a USAF and DoD Joint Personnel Recovery Agency (JPRA) initiative to merge all USAF combat search and rescue assets (CSAR) and USAF special operations fixed-wing and rotary-wing airborne infiltration/exfiltration, helicopter air refueling and rescue/recovery assets into a single command. This initiative was applied to all Total Force CSAR assets, i.e., Regular Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard. However, command and control issues unique to the special operations community made it apparent that this was not a preferred arrangement, and in 2006, all CSAR assets, including the 920 RQW, returned to overall ACC control.


NASA Manned Space Flight Support: Project Mercury (1961 - 1963), Project Gemini (1965 - 1966), Project Apollo (1968 - 1972), Project Skylab (1973 - 1974), Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (1975), Space Transportation System (STS) / Space Shuttle (1981 - Present)

Operations DESERT SHIELD / DESERT STORM (1990 - 1991), Hurricane Andrew Relief Operations (1992), Operation SOUTHERN WATCH (1992 - 2001), Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (2001 - Present), Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (2003 - Present), Hurricane Katrina Relief Operations (2005), COMBINED JOINT TASK FORCE - HORN OF AFRICA (2005 - Present)

Previous designations

*920th Troop Carrier Group (1963 – 1973)
*920th Tactical Airlift Group (1973 – 1976)
*920th Weather Reconnaissance Group (1976 – 1997)
*920th Rescue Group (1997 – 2003)
*920th Rescue Wing (2003 – Present)


Major Command

*Air Force Reserve Command (gained by Air Combat Command)

Numbered Air Force

*4th Air Force (1976 – 1977, 1981 – 1983)
*10th Air Force (1997, 2003 – Present)


*445th Military Airlift Wing (1963 – 1965)
*459th Tactical Airlift Wing (1973 – 1976)
*403rd Rescue and Weather Reconnaissance Wing (1977 – 1981, 1983)
*939th Rescue Wing (1997 – 2003)
*920th Rescue Wing (2003 - Present)

ubordinate Organizations

920th Operations Group (920 OG)
*39th Rescue Squadron (39 RQS) Commander: LtCol Frederick H. Funk Dir. of Operations: LtCol Jeffery D. Hannold Senior NCOIC: CMSgt Donald W. Rouse
*301st Rescue Squadron (301 RQS)
*308th Rescue Squadron (308 RQS)
*920th Operations Support Flight (920 OSF)

943rd Operations Group (943 OG) (Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona)
*305th Rescue Squadron (305 RQS)
*306th Rescue Squadron (306 RQS)
*943rd Operations Support Flight (943 OSF)

304th Rescue Squadron (304 RQS) (Portland International Airport/Air Reserve Station, Oregon)

920th Maintenance Group (920 MXG)
*920th Maintenance Squadron (920 MXS)
*920th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (920 AMXS)
*920th Maintenance Operations Flight (920 MOF)
*943rd Maintenance Squadron (943 MXS) (Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona)

920th Mission Support Group (920 MSG)
*920th Logistics Readiness Flight (920 LRF)
*920th Communications Flight (920 CF)
*920th Mission Support Flight (920 MSS)
*943d Mission Support Flight (943 MSS) (Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona)

920th Aeromedical Staging Squadron (920 AMDSS)

943rd Aerospace Medicine Squadron (943 AMDS) (Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona)

Bases stationed

*Memphis Municipal Airport, Tennessee (1963 – 1965) {previous troop carrier and tactical airlift missions}
*Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi (1973 – 1983) {previous tactical airlift and weather reconnaissance missions}
*Miami International Airport, Florida (1956 - 1960) {rescue mission]
*Homestead Air Force Base, Florida (1960 - 1992) {rescue mission}
*Patrick Air Force Base, Florida (1992 – Present) {rescue mission}

Aircraft Operated

*C-123 Provider (1963 – 1965)
*HU-16 Albatross (1956 - 1973)
*UH-1N/HH-1N Twin Huey (1973 - 1979)
*C-130 Hercules (1973 – 1977)
*WC-130 Hercules (1976 – 1983)
*HH-3 Jolly Green Giant (1974 - 1991)
*HC-130 (1974 – Present)
*HH-60G Pave Hawk (1997 – Present)

Unit Shields

External links

* [http://www.920rqw.afrc.af.mil/ 920 RQW Home Page]

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