Reserve Citizen Airman Staff Sgt. Gregg Forshaw, 308th Rescue Squadron pararescueman, and Senior Airman Davy Brinkmann, 301st Rescue Squadron special mission aviator, 920th Rescue Wing, were part of a six-person HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crew that rescued 84 Hurricane Harvey victims Aug. 30, 2017 around Port Arthur, Texas after Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of the state.
Forshaw recalls the chaos of the morning – pouring rain, strong wind, dozens of people waiving for help, and helicopters all around hoisting people up or readying to rescue stranded Texans.
One rescue that stood out to the team that morning was a family of four whose home was filled with waist-deep water. The grandfather was a double amputee on dialysis sitting in a powered wheelchair in the living room, with a grown daughter, her husband, and a small infant. The crew decided to hoist the father up first to help the others once in the helicopter.
Next, came the mother and baby. With Forshaw’s fellow pararescuemen ascending into the helicopter with mother and baby in the basket, a gust of wind forced the helicopter and hoist to sway briefly hooking the threesome under the roof.
Brinkmann, with his heart pounding in his chest, reacted quickly lowering the hoist and avoiding the worst. They were able to safely load mother and child into the plane and send the basket down once more for the grandfather and Forshaw.
Once everyone was safely in the aircraft, they took the family to a nearby hospital. The family was incredibly grateful to the crew.