332nd AIR EXPEDITIONARY WING --
Music floated over the tarmac at the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, while a crowd of Airmen gathered around an aircraft and tables of equipment displayed to showcase what the 26th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron is capable of on the battlefield.
Pararescuemen visited with Airmen over their tactical gear, explaining how they stand ready to perform a rescue 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week. A combat rescue configured HC-130J stands nearby with refueling drogues displayed and an American flag flutters above its cargo hold.
Rescue squadron commander Maj. Christopher Bridges says it’s designed to be a fun occasion while at the same time educating wing members on what the rescue squadron does, and it might also be a recruiting opportunity…
“Combat search and rescue is here, here’s what we do,” he said going on to explain how they integrate with Pave Hawk HH-60G extending their range through air-to-air refueling and allowing them to rescue a downed pilot. How they can insert operators into a hostile environment and provide command and control for them as they work to extract the isolated person, as well as deliver equipment and food if the need arises.
A helicopter happens to fly overhead and he points to it saying, “that’s a probe you see right there off the front,” where the helicopter mates with the fuel drogue towed by his aircraft.
The unit also wants to showcase something called FARP, short for Forward Arming and Refueling Point, where the aircrew sets op a refueling point on the ground in an austere environment. It begins at a dead sprint as one member of the aircrew grabs the end of a 300-foot hose and pulls it away from the aircraft.
“Pulling that rubber hose—that resistance that it picks up the farther it goes out—is definitely physical and taxing,” said Staff Sgt. William Smith, a specialized fuels management technician attached to the rescue squadron specifically for FARP.
Its taxing nature offered the opportunity to showcase a person’s physical fitness and today one of the C-130 rescue pilots, Capt. Joshua Skersey, throws the hose over his shoulder and races away while the crowd claps and cheers him on.
Williams said he completed the exercise in plenty of time should he want to cross-train onto the FARP team.
“From running the hose out and taking a knee, when we consider it established, took three minutes and 20 seconds,” he said. “According to FARP we have 20 minutes to complete that process.”
As the event wrapped up members stowed the fuel hose, packed night vision goggles and weapons back in their cases and made everything ready for a rescue emergency, something they stand ready for at a moment’s notice on any given day or night.