Based at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, the 920th Rescue Wing is the only Air Force Reserve Command that trains and equips Airmen who carry out its mission; plan, lead and conduct military rescue operations and missions 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 recovery operations into hostile or denied areas as a primary mission.
The 920th Rescue Wing is comprised of 23 subordinate groups and squadrons, including three geographically separated units; one at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, one at Portland, Oregon, and one at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.
The wing is responsible for a demanding and compelling array of missions, and the men and women who serve here must maintain a high level of proficiency and be ready to deploy at moment’s notice. The unit’s peacetime missions include search-and-rescue support for civilians in distress at sea, in the desert or upon mountains. The wing also provides worldwide humanitarian relief, supporting rescue efforts in the aftermath of disasters such as hurricanes, floods and earthquakes.
The 920th was originally the 301st Rescue Squadron, which was activated in 1956, 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, Florida. The following year, the wing began a relationship with NASA and the U.S. space program, providing rescue-contingency operations for the first Mercury launch.
With over 25 deployments and mobilizations since 1990, the men and women that comprise the wing have more than 4,000 saves. The wing has been mobilized for the Gulf War and operations including Southern Watch, Provide Comfort, Northern Watch, Allied Force, Noble Eagle, Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa.
The Rescue Wing has also been a mainstay in humanitarian relief, rescuing 137 South Florida residents in the days following Hurricane Andrew (1992); saving 93 elderly residents from rising flood waters at a Tampa-area retirement community (1993); rescuing more than 200 people after Hurricane Floyd (1999); pulling 1,043 people from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005); saving 17 lives from the aftermath of Hurricane Ike in Texas; Rescuing 235 victims of catastrophic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in Southeast Texas (2017); saving more than 200 people after multiple avalanches hit the Salang Pass, the main route between northern Afghanistan and Kabul province; and as part of the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa, where Rescue Wing Airmen have been part of several successful search and rescues, as well as anti-pirate activity, through their ongoing deployments supporting Inherent Resolve, Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and JTF-HOA through today.