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Four rescue squadrons deploy, return together

Staff Sgt. James Baker, 71st Rescue Squadron loadmaster, reunites with his fiancé, Emily Jobson, after returning from a deployment in Southwest Asia, June 7, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The 71st RQS provided expeditionary personnel recovery in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (U.S. photo by Airman 1st Class Erick Requadt)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. James Baker, 71st Rescue Squadron loadmaster, reunites with his fiancé, Emily Jobson, after returning from a deployment in Southwest Asia, June 7, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The 71st RQS provided expeditionary personnel recovery in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (U.S. photo by Airman 1st Class Erick Requadt)

Family and friends hold signs during a redeployment, June 6, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The 41st and 71st Rescue Squadrons were recently deployed to Southwest Asia where they provided combat search and rescue capabilities in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Sprunk)

Family and friends hold signs during a redeployment, June 6, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The 41st and 71st Rescue Squadrons were recently deployed to Southwest Asia where they provided combat search and rescue capabilities in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Sprunk)

Staff Sgt. Matthew Pearson, 71st Aircraft Maintenance Unit navigation specialist, holds his daughter, Savannah, during a redeployment, June 6, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The 41st and 71st Rescue Squadrons were recently deployed to Southwest Asia where they provided combat search and rescue capabilities in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Sprunk)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Pearson, 71st Aircraft Maintenance Unit navigation specialist, holds his daughter, Savannah, during a redeployment, June 6, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The 41st and 71st Rescue Squadrons were recently deployed to Southwest Asia where they provided combat search and rescue capabilities in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Sprunk)

Luke Rynbrandt, holds the hand of his father, Capt. Kevin Rynbrandt, 41st Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk pilot, as he returned home from a deployment, June 8, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The 41st and 71st Rescue Squadrons were recently deployed to Southwest Asia where they provided combat search and rescue capabilities in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air Force photo By Airman 1st Class Daniel Snider)

Luke Rynbrandt, holds the hand of his father, U.S. Air Force Capt. Kevin Rynbrandt, 41st Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk pilot, as he returned home from a deployment, June 8, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The 41st and 71st Rescue Squadrons were recently deployed to Southwest Asia where they provided combat search and rescue capabilities in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air Force photo By Airman 1st Class Daniel Snider)

Quinn Conrad greets his father, Staff Sgt. Adam Conrad, 41st Rescue Squadron special missions aviator, as he returned home from a deployment, June 8, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The 41st and 71st Rescue Squadrons were recently deployed to Southwest Asia where they provided combat search and rescue capabilities in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air Force photo By Airman 1st Class Daniel Snider)

Quinn Conrad greets his father, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Adam Conrad, 41st Rescue Squadron special missions aviator, as he returned home from a deployment, June 8, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The 41st and 71st Rescue Squadrons were recently deployed to Southwest Asia where they provided combat search and rescue capabilities in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air Force photo By Airman 1st Class Daniel Snider)

Senior Master Sgt. Jeffrey Schillawski, 71st Aircraft Maintenance Unit superintendent, embraces his son, Noah, during a redeployment, June 6, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The 41st and 71st Rescue Squadrons were recently deployed to Southwest Asia where they provided combat search and rescue capabilities in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Sprunk)

U.S. Air Froce Senior Master Sgt. Jeffrey Schillawski, 71st Aircraft Maintenance Unit superintendent, embraces his son, Noah, during a redeployment, June 6, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The 41st and 71st Rescue Squadrons were recently deployed to Southwest Asia where they provided combat search and rescue capabilities in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Sprunk)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

Rescue Airmen from the 23d Wing recently returned from a deployment where they provided around-the-clock personnel recovery coverage in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Working together to ensure someone’s worst day wasn’t their last day, the 71st, 41st, 48th and 55th Rescue Squadrons provided the airborne and ground components for U.S. Central Command’s  personnel recovery operations.

“One thing that set this deployment apart from others I’ve been on is that all three Rescue [components], the HC-130, HH-60 and Guardian Angels, were together in a single location,” said Lt. Col. Michael Thompson, 71st RQS director of operations. “We planned and executed together as a cohesive rescue team.

“We were on alert 24/7 to ensure that if there is ever an Airman, Sailor, Marine, or Soldier who is isolated, we are prepared to return them to friendly control,” Thompson explained.

The rescue teams remained on-call for more than 2,800 hours during the four-month deployment. Thompson added the rescue mission was crucial enough that if for some reason the teams were unavailable, operations could cease.

“Bottom line, if some form of personnel recovery is not available for our Airmen, they don’t fly,” Thompson said.

Rescue Airmen agree. While maintaining the standard for personnel recovery may be cut and dry, dismantling the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is a complex team effort with many moving parts.

“There’s a lot of our U.S., joint or coalition partners out there taking it to the enemy,” said Lt. Col. Chris Richardson, 41st RQS commander. “It’s our job to make sure those guys don’t fall into enemy hands, and these guys are the cream of the crop. Whenever we make the promise that nobody will be left behind, we hold to that oath. We’re coming to get you.”

Even though these Airmen constantly train for rescue missions, weather and logistics were obstacles that created challenges during the deployment.   

“The first week we were in theater, our location was hit by a winter storm, which reduced our alert posture,” Thompson said. “At one point, we even sent an aircraft to a forward base to be certain we could launch on a mission if we were called upon.

“The other obstacle, logistics, also affected us," Thompson added. "Being at forward operating locations forced us to be flexible and come up with creative ways to ensure we were able to maintain alert [status.]”

Maintaining alert status allowed the crews to provide the Combined Forces Air Component Commander everything needed to conduct the ongoing war against ISIS.

“It was great to show how the work we put in at home pays off directly when we deploy,” Thompson said. “It’s great to know, that if we ever have a downed Airman, we are ready to execute the rescue mission, ‘that others may live’.”