Based at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., the 920th Rescue Wing is an Air Force Reserve Command combat-search-and-rescue unit comprised of 2,000 Citizen Airmen Commanded by Col. Kurt A. Matthews. The 920th RQW's primary mission is combat search and rescue - to search for, locate and recover U.S. Armed Forces and coalition personnel who become isolated during military operations. Air Force rescue is the only DoD entity specifically organized, trained and equipped to conduct personnel recovery operations into hostile or denied areas as a primary mission.
The 920th also provides safety and security surveillance of the Eastern Launch Range during all rocket launches from the Space Coast. The unit's other peacetime missions are providing civil search and rescue support for those who are lost or in distress, and providing humanitarian and disaster-relief operations.
The 920th Rescue Wing is comprised of 24 subordinate groups and squadrons, including three geographically-separated units--the 943rd Rescue Group
at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., the 304th Rescue Squadron at Portland, Ore, and the 920th Aerospace Medicine Flight at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. The 920th Rescue Wing is responsible for a demanding and compelling array of life-saving missions, and the men and women who work here must maintain a high level of proficiency and be ready to deploy at moment's notice.
The 920th Rescue Wing, originally the 301st Rescue Squadron, was activated on Jan 15, 1963, becoming the Air Force Reserve's first and only rescue squadron. The unit was based at Miami International Airport and made its first rescue in January 1957. In 1960, the unit relocated to Homestead AFB, near Miami. The following year, the 920th began a long relationship with NASA and the U.S. space program, providing rescue-contingency operations for the first Mercury launch and continued 50 years of manned spaceflight support as they were the primary rescue unit charged as guardians of the astronauts during NASA space shuttle missions until NASA's human spaceflight transportation system ended in July 2011.
The wing mobilized Airmen to Operation Allied Force (1999), Operation Southern Watch and Operation Noble Eagle (2001), Operation Iraqi Freedom (2002), and Operation Enduring Freedom (2005, 2008, and 2011), making 1,221 combat rescues, including Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, who documented his ordeal in the best-selling novels, "Lone Survivor" and "Service".
The rescue wing has also been a mainstay in humanitarian relief, rescuing 137 South Florida residents during the 18 days following Hurricane Andrew (1992); saving 93 elderly residents from rising flood waters at their Tampa-area retirement community (1993); rescuing more than 200 people after Hurricane Floyd (1999) and pulling 1,049 people from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005).
Combat and civilian search and rescue, rocket launch support, humanitarian relief.
Citizen Airmen Assigned:
920th Rescue Wing provides 18% of the Air Force's personnel recovery mission at 4% of the cost.
Six HC-130P/N King fixed-wing long-range air refueling aircraft; and 15 HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters. The King aircraft provides the Pave Hawks with in-flight fuel, giving Air Force rescue crews an unlimited range of rescue.
Three squadrons of paramedics skilled in mountaineering, parachuting, SCUBA diving, survival & evasion techniques and special weapons & tactics.
More than 3,000 lives saved since 1956
"These things we do, that others may live"