Versatile 129th

The airmen of the California Air National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing at Moffett Field “seamlessly” transitioned from firefighting duties to at-sea medical assistance and rescue, says Lt. Col. Steve Butow, the unit’s operations group commander. He called the 129th the “go to” unit for anything from fires, floods, and earthquakes to combat and civilian search and rescue. It is the only USAF rescue unit qualified to fight fires and has been working since July 3 in that role, dumping about 150,000 gallons of water on fires in northern California. Meanwhile, the Coast Guard tapped the unit to aid a seaman in need of immediate medical attention aboard a Canadian fishing vessel some 500 miles out from Eureka, Calif. A 129th RQW MC-130P found the boat July 17, and four unit pararescue jumpers parachuted down, remaining overnight to provide emergency care. On the morning of July 18, two HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, recalled and refitted from fire duty, and two MC-130P tankers went to pick up the airmen and the seaman, all five of which were hoisted aboard the helicopters, with the seaman transported to a medical facility in San Jose. Said Coast Guard Rear Adm. Craig Bone, the 129th RQW’s “response was immediate and, as usual, effective.” (129th RQW report by Capt. Alyson Teeter; read also a first-hand account in The Mercury News)