Story by TSgt Lindsey Maurice on 03/30/2018It was a roller coaster of emotions for the approximately 1,500 people who joined together from across the globe to pay tribute to pararescuemen Master Sgt. William Posch and Staff Sgt. Carl Enis March 27, 2018 in aircraft Hangar 750.
The pararescuemen assigned to the 308th Rescue Squadron were two of the seven Airmen killed in an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crash in Anbar Province, Iraq, March 15, 2018.
"Today is a day in which we should remember the joy, the laughter, the magnanimous life of Bill and Carl and the entire crew of Jolly 51," said Lt. Col. Timothy Hanks, 308th RQS commander. "Today is another day in our healing process for family, friends, teammates, and the community. It is a day in which we recognize the pain is real and still raw, but it is also the day we celebrate the lives of our fallen heroes."
All eyes were on the families of the fallen as their 60-vehicle motorcade of military and civilian police, SWAT teams and veteran motorcyclists arrived at the hangar. The crowd of predominately camouflage uniforms became still at the presentation of the colors followed by a steel-guitar solo performance of the National Anthem by pararescueman retired Chief Master Sgt. Robert Disney.
"You may be asking yourselves why the multicam and field uniforms for this ceremony," said 1st Lt. Dan Warren, 212th Rescue Squadron combat rescue officer and master of ceremonies. "It's our way of honoring warriors killed in action. Most of the 308th Rescue Squadron is still deployed to a combat theater on alert every day unable to attend their own teammates' memorial. They can't wear blues and Bill's and Carl's funerals will be the place where we honor their legacy in dress blues and pushups. This is a celebration of the lives and legacies of these fallen heroes."
The brotherly love of the Guardian Angel community was at the forefront of the ceremony as fellow PJs and combat rescue officers traveled from as far as England, Alaska, Oregon, Arizona, and Georgia among other locations to show their support for the families. The maroon sea of their maroon berets filling the seats directly behind the family and the entire right side of the hangar was a visual statement of their support. Guardian Angel is comprised of CROs; PJs; survival, evasion, resistance, and escape specialists and uniquely trained support personnel dedicated to the Air Force core function of personnel recovery.
"Over the past week I've had the honor and the privilege to be with our gold star families and hear their stories how they as wives, mothers, sisters, brothers, family and friends remember Bill and Carl," Hanks said. "You have paid the ultimate sacrifice as well. Please know with this loss you've also gained 1,000 sons, brothers, uncles, sisters and fathers. You can call anywhere around the world and mention who you are and any of these men amongst you will drop everything to meet your request."
The lives deeply touched by the two American heroes was evident as speaker after speaker took to the podium sharing sentimental memories and hilarious tales of embarrassing blunders, adrenaline-fueled adventures and the good times.
"I've known Bill and Carl for an incredibly long time." said Staff Sgt. Joshua Langley, 308th RQS pararescueman who met Posch through lifeguarding as a teenager and Enis in college at Florida State University. "We are all better for knowing these two. They taught us so much about life and they have made the world such an entertaining place. We should always celebrate the great times, the rescues, the laughter and the memories."
Posch was raised in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, where he spent much of his teenage years lifeguarding for the Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue. In 2000, he enlisted into the Air Force and graduated from the Pararescue Apprentice Course in 2003. After leaving active duty, Posch became a traditional reservist at the 308th RQS. In 2010, he began working full time at the unit. He was a combat veteran who participated in numerous joint special operations missions and tactical deployments. He supported major military operations at home and abroad including Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, Joint Task Force Katrina, JTF NASA Space Shuttle launch and recovery, and JTF Harvey, where he and his fellow rescue warriors saved 235 hurricane victims in Texas. In 2013, Posch was named one of the Air Force's 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.
But of all his accomplishments, each person to take the podium noted that Posch's proudest moments came with fatherhood.
"Every time I spoke with him, that's what he talked about how much he loved his boys and how much he loved being a father," said Senior Master Sgt. Ivan Ruiz, 57th Rescue Squadron pararescueman and Posch's close friend of more than a decade. "He would always send me pictures. He kept Kai and Jackson at his side as much as possible. He was a great father."
Enis didn't pursue his dream of becoming a pararescueman until after graduating from Florida State University in 2008. He graduated from the Pararescue Apprentice Course in 2012 and was assigned to the 308th RQS shortly thereafter. He deployed with the unit multiple times, supporting combat operations throughout the Horn of Africa and most recently in Iraq. In 2013, Sergeant Enis was named 920th Rescue Wing Airman of the Year and Air Force Reserve Command Pararescueman of the Year.
Within both his civilian and military circles, Enis was known for his passion of the outdoors and his expert hunting, fishing, and diving skills. Several of his best friends and hunting buddies shared tales of adventures around the world from taking down large game and wrestling crocodiles to spear hunting giant fish.
"Carl and I shared a mutual love for the outdoors and became quick friends," said Dan Sherraden, Enis' close friend since college. "He was the most talented and athletic individual I have ever met in my entire life. He was fearless and he was one hell of a diver and spear fisherman."
Sherraden spoke to Enis' natural ability to excel at anything thrown his way as well as his humble nature.
"We have learned of a lot of his accomplishments from all of you here," he said, "not from Carl because he didn't feel the need to brag about the things that he accomplished because that's the way that Carl was, and that's unusual."
During the ceremony it was noted that both men were posthumously awarded the Meritorious Service Medal as well as the Commendation Medal with Combat Device.
The tribute closed with a three-volley gun salute by Guardian Angels with the 38th Rescue Squadron, followed by the playing of Taps by a trumpeter, Amazing Grace by bagpipe and drum ensemble, and the time honored pararescue tradition of each Guardian Angel in attendance pounding the flash from his beret into a commemorative board to be placed on display in the 308th RQS.