Thursday, September 06, 2012

ANG, Coast Guard complete joint rescue mission

MOFFETT FEDERAL AIRFIELD, Calif. (AFNS) -- California Air National Guardsmen from the 129th Rescue Wing, in a joint mission with the U.S. Coast Guard, successfully completed the rescue of two distressed fishermen aboard a fishing vessel about 1,400 miles off the coast of Acapulco, Mexico.

On Sunday, Sept. 2, the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in Florida contacted the 129th Rescue Wing concerning an injured fisherman aboard the Mirelur, an Ecuadorian fishing vessel. The fisherman was experiencing severe abdominal pain and required immediate medical attention beyond the capabilities of the fishing vessel's staff.

On Monday, Sept. 3, an MC-130P Combat Shadow airplane and two HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters from the 129th RQW departed Moffett Federal Airfield for Mexico. The Combat Shadow flew to the location of the Mirelur, and 129th RQW pararescuemen - highly trained special operations medical personnel - parachuted into the Pacific Ocean before boarding the Mirelur. Once on board, the pararescuemen learned that another fisherman required medical treatment and began treating both persons.

On Tuesday, Sept. 4, the pararescuemen and patients were transferred from the Mirelur to the Morgenthau, a U.S. Coast Guard cutter sailing toward the coast of Mexico. The patients continued to receive medical treatment from the pararescuemen and Morgenthau's medical staff.

Yesterday, the two HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, accompanied by two MC-130P Combat Shadow airplanes, flew to the Morgentha's location in the Pacific Ocean. The two injured fishermen and four pararescuemen were hoisted off the cutter onto the Pave Hawks and flown to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. After landing in Cabo San Lucas yesterday evening, the fishermen were transferred to an ambulance and taken to a local hospital for further treatment.

"This mission demonstrates the adaptability of the Air National Guard to fight wildfires in California one moment, and then save the lives of civilians in the Pacific the next," said Col. Steven J. Butow, 129th RQW commander. "I am extremely proud of our airmen and their selfless efforts to save the lives of these fishermen."

This rescue brings the total number of people saved by the 129th RQW to 953.

The primary mission of the 129th RQW is to conduct its wartime search-and-rescue duties anywhere in the world. In addition to its combat mission, the unit also works closely with the Coast Guard and other civil agencies on domestic civil-response missions throughout the year. Equipped with Combat Shadow aircraft and Pave Hawk rescue helicopters, the 129th RQW has performed a wide variety of civilian search-and-rescue missions, including responding to distressed persons aboard ships, lost or injured hikers, and conducting medical evacuations during natural disasters.