MOODY AIR FORCE BASE -- Having supported Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom since the War on Terror began in 2001, the 41st Rescue Squadron is back at Moody Air Force Base.
The business of combat search and rescue leaves little time to relax as the war on terror continues. But before the 41st begins a six-month reconstitution to train and retrain, time will be made for personnel to go home and see their families.
"The unit has been deployed for well over a year and the families needed family time," said Lt. Col. Lee Pera, director of operations, 41st RQS.
The reconstituting will involve the 41st starting its train-up cycle and letting the maintenance personnel get the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters healthy, Pera said.
The two-week "Desert Rescue" training that begins next week at Fallon Naval Air Station, Nev., is the first stage of the reconstitution process. The exercise involves the 41st practicing and training the CSAR mission in a joint environment. The training will utilize assets from the 347th Rescue Wing, which include the HC-130 aircraft from the 71st RQS and pararescuemen from the 38th RQS, and Navy assets, Pera said.
The 41st is sending four helicopters with six crews plus support personnel from the 41st Helicopter Maintenance Unit, he said. "We're basically deploying a rescue task force here," Pera said.
After flying real world missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Nevada desert will be a change for the combat-tested crews from the 41st and will prove to be beneficial for them. "The big issue when you're in a combat environment -- you continue to train, and a lot of times you can't train at the level you need to keep your people trained," Pera said.
There is another side of Desert Rescue that's vital to the CSAR mission, and that's ensuring the aircraft keep flying. That major responsibility falls on the 41st HMU, which has been planning for this training mission for months, said Chief Master Sgt. Jay Taylor, 41st HMU chief. "We had to make sure the airplanes didn't have any special inspections that were going to come due while they were out there," Taylor said. "We made sure that each one of these aircraft flew sometime this week to validate all the systems were operational."
One of the aircraft had to have an inspection done on Wednesday so it could go on the mission. It was a major inspection where the aircraft had to be dismantled, Taylor said. There will be over 25 people from the helicopter maintenance unit and about 10 people from the 347th Maintenance Squadron going to Fallon, Taylor said. There will also be almost 30 people going to support the HC-130 aircraft supporting the training, he added.
Over a week ago, two 40-foot trailers with equipment consisting of spare engines, tools and parts headed out to Fallon NAS, and Thursday four members from the 41st left Moody to receive the equipment and set up the work area when it arrives, Taylor said.
To contact reporter Rip Prine, please call 244-3400, ext. 237.
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