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Weapon maintainers arm the Pave Hawk “So Others May Live”

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford
  • 455th AEW/PA
When a Guardian Angel team assigned to the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron takes off on a combat rescue mission here they do so knowing their weapon systems are good to go.

The 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadrons HH-60G Pave Hawk weapon system maintainers work to keep the Pave Hawks armed so that the combat rescue mission in Afghanistan is successful.

“Our unit provides combat rescue capabilities. That's a different role than other helicopter transport units from the other branches of the Department of Defense provide,” said Master Sgt. Alexander Sellner, 455th EAMXS Expeditionary Helicopter Maintenance Unit superintendent.

“When we say Air Force combat rescue, we're talking about saving lives behind enemy lines in an often hostile combat environment,” said Sellner. ”The weapon systems, maintained by our technicians and used in flight by the aircrew, protect both the survivor and rescue force.”

Having the weapon systems on the HH-60 allows the Guardian Angels to go into hostile environments to complete their mission.

“We give them the ability to defend themselves,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Smith, 455th EAMXS Pave Hawk weapons. “Without the weapon systems they’re at the mercy of whoever would shoot at them. The weapons systems give them the ability to dictate what is going on in the field; they can suppress fire in order to get into an LZ (landing zone) to complete the combat rescue mission. They can also provide overhead coverage so PJs (pararescuemen) can complete their jobs while on the ground.”

In a perfect situation there will be no hostile forces during rescue missions, but if there is the Guardian Angel team will be ready.

“It’s ideal to have ground forces there to secure the area, but if a pilot goes down in Afghanistan and we have to go get them with hostile forces closing we cannot wait on ground forces,” said Smith. “With the weapons systems that we provide they can fight their way in and out if necessary to bring the pilot home. The PJ and aircrew motto is ‘So That Others May Live;’ arming the Pave Hawks gives them the ability to live up to that motto.”