California Air National Guard, Coast Guard team up for rescue mission
California Air National Guard 129th Rescue Wing Insignia
On Sunday, the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in Florida contacted the 129th RQW 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, an MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft and two HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters from the 129th RQW departed Moffett Federal Airfield for Mexico. Aircrews in the Combat Shadow flew to the location of the Mirelur, and 129th RQW pararescuemen – highly trained special operations medical personnel, also known as “PJs” – parachuted into the Pacific Ocean before boarding the Mirelur. Once on board, the PJs learned that another fisherman required medical treatment and began treating both individuals.
This morning, the PJs and patients were transferred from the Mirelur to the Coast Guard Cutter Morgenthau. If the fishermen’s medical conditions worsen, the aircrews from the 129th RQW will use Pave Hawk helicopters to fly to the Morgenthau’s location tomorrow and extract the patients and bring them to land-based medical facilities.
"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 Air Force 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."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 local 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. Over the course of its history, the 129th RQW has rescued nearly 1,000 distressed people.