Story by Andre Trinidad on 06/06/2019Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz. -- "You've got 14 minutes left to say goodbye to your family, if you don't have any one here you can go inside." The words hang in the hot and arid afternoon.
Days earlier the 306th Rescue Squadron got together to say goodbye to this team headed out for deployment. The time for ceremonial goodbyes has been completed, these are the last few minutes before these Airmen leave Davis-Monthan, Arizona.
There are several civilian-clothed family and friends but it's mostly a sea of military personnel.
The luggage and professional gear has been palletized, categorized and is awaiting the C-17 Globemaster III that will haul these Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) professionals and all accompanying gear, to their deployed location.
"We've been asked to keep our readiness up, 24/7, all year round" says Maj. Brent McCall, Commander 306th Rescue Squadron. "But four months before we deploy, we then try to work the less common but most difficult type mission sets before we step out the door to make sure our guys are proficient and ready to go."
The 306th Rescue Squadron is deploying a whole team to support this rescue mission to include a multitude of Air Force specialties: pararescue, communications, vehicle maintainers, combat arms, aviation resource management, Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape (SERE) specialists, Air Flight Equipment (AFE), a Flight Doctor and an Independent Duty Medical Technician (IDMT).
"We are just like any other rescue squadron; active duty, reserve or guard" said Maj. McCall. "We train to rescue isolated personnel...anytime, anywhere; but we do it with combat ready citizen airmen."
"We like to hit all our core tasks such as: medical skills work, technical rescue, weapons employment, extrication, as well as air and maritime operations," said Senior Master Sgt. Luke Naughton, Operations Superintendent, 306th Rescue Squadron. "If you're looking to come into the military the rescue mission is definitely the way to go."
"We couldn't do our job without combat mission support, we put a lot of trust in those Airmen and, in turn, they make the mission happen for us" said McCall. "That's one thing that we never want to overlook."
The CSAR mission comprises a team of very skilled men and women, all supporting the same goal. Each has their role and responsibility in fulfilling this mission. Their motto is "these things we do that others may live."
"Our support team ran through an entire spin up as well," said McCall. "To get them ready to go do any type of mission whether it involves vehicle convoy operations; small unit tactics, shooting, handling radios, anything from mounted to dis-mounted operations."
They perform all this training in-house using their own organic resources.
Naughton said "we've had great support from our leadership and great monetary backup for mission essential training at this level."
"We pride ourselves in the reserves on doing everything that the active duty can do with a cheaper price-tag" said McCall.
"The pararescuemen are always training; whether it's on the mountain doing high-angle training or in the ocean doing maritime ops," said McCall. "We even had to find some snow and ice to do some avalanche recovery type rescue."
"Not all of our deployments deal with all environments but you never know where you're going to end up" said McCall. "We try to be ready for anything."
For the rescue community deployment is bittersweet. It's exciting to finally go out and execute real-world missions, utilizing all the training one has acquired. Sadness for the loved ones you leave behind. These mixed emotions are shared by the men and women deploying today.
"You got three minutes left."
One father carries his toddler back to the car and buckles his daughter in her car seat. A few more moments of quiet, familial normalcy. A warm embrace to his wife and one more kiss. Dad quickly composes himself and walks back to the passenger terminal. Adjusting his maroon beret, a symbol of his elite career field.
His wife and daughter drive off with one minute to spare.