38th RQS celebrates 20th anniversary

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jasmine M. Barnes
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs

The 38th Rescue Squadron hosted a celebration May 21, in honor of its 20th anniversary.

Although the rescue mission has not changed, the ability to accomplish the mission has improved over the last 20 years.

“When we (put together) this squadron on May 7, 2001, it was the first crew-lead rescue squadron that took pararescue men out of the flying squadrons (and highlighted) their unique capability,” said retired Chief Master Sgt. Paul Miller, 38th RQS’ first chief enlisted manager. “It was important that we set it up well (because) it’s not that this unit just exists 20 years later. It’s thriving.”

Since 2001, the squadron has been able to live up to their mission statement and continue to bring Airmen home.

“The mission is to provide expert mission planning and joint leadership in all warfighting domains (in order) to (execute) innovative personnel recovery,” said Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Wierzba, 38th RQS first sergeant. “Our Air Force mission is to fly, flight and win, but you can’t fly and fight if you’re down a pilot that needs somebody to come get them. That’s how we get involved.”

This squadron bares some unique qualities that validate its capabilities to save Airmen in danger. The 38th RQS is the only rescue squadron here with pararescue men, and it is one of five Guardian Angel units in the world.

“Personnel recovery is one of those missions where it’s a tactical execution with strategic effect,” said Miller. “What makes this squadron unique is it’s one of the few (units) where the people are the weapons systems. When we were envisioning this (unit), it was for the pararescue men and survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists to do their job independent of transportation.”

Moving forward, members of the 38th RQS hope to incorporate more innovative technology in order to stay ahead of adversaries.

“We’re looking at better technology to integrate into the pararescue mission,” said Wierzba. “The pararescue men and combat rescue officers are human weapon systems. With the help of technology, it’s going to make it much faster and easier to do things they need to do, whether it’s (to improve) vision on the battlefield from overhead where enemies are or where people who need to be rescued are. That’s the vision for the future.”

The 38th RQS has come a long way and still has ways to go. In 20 years, the rescue mission has remained constant, but the capabilities of 38th RQS Airmen continue to grow.

“It’s been an incredible experience to be back here and participate in the 20-year anniversary celebration,” said retired Col. Vincent Savino, 38th RQS’ first commander. “It’s just amazing to see how things have evolved from the seeds we planted 20 years ago come to fruition and the capability of the guys and gals have (in order to) move forward with everything that’s going on today.”