39th Rescue Squadron welcomes new commander

  • Published
  • By Capt. Amanda Ling, 920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs

The 39th Rescue Squadron’s Change of Command Ceremony for Lt. Col. David Underwood took place inside the Fuel Cell hangar here, March 4.

“Dave has a keen eye for innovation, organizational improvement, and organizational proficiency through process improvement. He is the right officer at the right time to continue to move the 39th forward,” said Lt. Col. John Lowe, 920th Operations Group commander. 

Lt. Col. Underwood commissioned in 1998 as a graduate of U.S. Army ROTC after serving as an enlisted Chaplain’s Assistant in the U.S. Army Reserve. In 2003, Underwood conducted an inter-service transfer to the Air Force where he became an HC-130 Combat King pilot. In 2023, he deployed as Commander, 26th Rescue Squadron, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve where he commanded rescue professionals responsible for a 540,000 square mile AOR. Lt. Col. Underwood is a command pilot with more than 2,900 hours including 240 hours of combat/combat support. Prior to this change of command, he served as interim 920th Operations Support Squadron commander.

“While in command, I’m committed to ensuring we maintain and approach balance, continue our individual efforts to the Agile Combat Employment concept, while finding ways to get leaner and deploy faster. Our evolution is not the enemy of our traditions. We can move forward without fear or turning our backs on the past,” said Lt. Col. Underwood, incoming 39th RQS commander.

The 39th Rescue Squadron supports the 920th Rescue Wing’s primary mission to plan, lead, and conduct military rescue operations and missions. It is the fixed wing component of a combined arms team that includes six HC-130J aircraft with capabilities that include helicopter air-to-air refueling, airdrops, and command and control. When tasked, the squadron also conducts humanitarian assistance operations and disaster response.

The 920th RQW is the only combat search and rescue wing in the Air Force Reserve Command that trains and equips its Airmen to carry out its mission to plan, lead and conduct military rescue operations and missions in order to deny competitors and adversaries exploitation of isolated personnel. Air Force rescue is the only DoD entity specifically organized, trained and equipped to conduct personnel recover operations into hostile or denied areas as a primary mission.