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Remembering Chief Master Sgt Nicholas McCaskill

Chief Master Sergeant Nicholas L. McCaskill

Chief Master Sergeant Nicholas L. McCaskill. (Courtesy photo)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. --

Chief Master Sergeant Nicholas L. McCaskill, pararescueman, was killed in Afghanistan on April 6, 2013.

CMSgt McCaskill entered the Air Force in May of 1992, McCaskill as a structural maintenance specialist. After completing technical school, he was assigned to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, where he worked on jet air craft and helicopters to include the F-4 Phantom, F-15 Eagle, F-16 Falcon, A-10 Warthog aircraft and HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters.

In October 1994, he entered the two-year pararescue indoctrination pipeline, and in 1996 McCaskill was assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron at Nellis AFB to begin his career as a pararescueman.

In 2001, Chief McCaskill's moved into the 320th Special Tactics Squadron, 353rd Special Operations Group, Kadena Air Base, Japan. While assigned as a special tactics pararescueman, he deployed to the Philippines where he augmented the 1st Special Forces Group Theater Quick Reaction Force. McCaskill provided vital combat-search-and-rescue expertise in direct support of a mission to rescue American hostages, for which he was awarded the Joint Service Achievement Medal from the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command.

In addition, he supported a maritime interdiction operation that led to the elimination of the region's number one most-wanted terrorist. In 2003, the 353rd Special Operations Group recognized McCaskill as Pararescueman of the Year for "building the most capable team in the unit's history."

McCaskill joined the 48th Rescue Squadron in 2005 and deployed to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom where he led 13 combat missions.

On one mission, McCaskill led a four-man rescue team to recover six U.S. Army aircrew and four 10th Mountain Division soldiers killed in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter crash. This recovery required a three-hour overland movement through hostile and hazardous mountainous terrain. While exposed to extreme danger from hostile machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire, his team worked continuously for 24-hours taking sporadic enemy fire to ensure that all 10 killed in action and all sensitive items were recovered from the crash site.

For his efforts on this mission, McCaskill was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.

Later that year, McCaskill led a 14-man team in support of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita relief where the team were credited with 1,200 saves.

In July of 2006, McCaskill left the active duty and became a reservist with the 306th Rescue Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, a geographically separated unit within the 920th Rescue Wing. McCaskill led numerous NASA missions at Kennedy Space Center and executed Guardian Angel exercises with ally countries in both Tajikistan and the Philippines.

McCaskill served more than 20 years in the U.S. Air Force to include 16 years conducting rescue and special operations. He had 500 plus flight hours, 200 of which were during combat operations.