USAF Activates HC-130P Rescue Force in Afghanistan

The Air Force officially activated the 79th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, April 22, but the airmen deployed to the unit from Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., set up alert operations April 8 and flew their first alert sortie April 9. The squadron comprises some 86 airmen—aircrews, maintainers, and pararescue jumpers. The PJs can care for wounded troops in transit or airdrop from the unit’s fixed-wing HC-130Ps into a combat zone to help injured personnel. The last time the HC-130 appeared in the Afghan theater, according to Lt. Col. Michael Hinsch, 79th ERQS commander, was five years ago, when they flew missions out of Pakistan and Uzbekistan. At Bastion, the HC-130 force is on 30-minute alert status. Hinsch said, “Helmand Province is the busiest spot right now in Afghanistan; being here puts us right where they need us.” (Squadron activation report by SrA. Nancy Hooks; additional report by TSgt. Oshawn Jefferson)