The 79th Rescue Squadron operates the HC-130J "Combat King II" and provides rapidly deployable combat personnel recovery forces to combatant commanders worldwide. It conducts helicopter air-to-air refueling, airdrop and air/land placement of pararescue personnel and/or equipment in support of combat personnel recovery. The 79th is capable of providing airborne mission commander and rescue mission commander duties for long periods of time due to our receiver aerial refueling capability, limiting mission length to crew stamina. Its crews are capable of landing on short, unimproved runways and conducting low-level operations during daytime missions, or night with the aid of night vision goggles.
"That Others May Live"
The 79th Rescue Squadron maintains combat-ready status with six HC-130J aircraft and provides rapidly deployable, expeditionary personnel recovery forces to combatant commanders for contingency/crisis response operations worldwide. The 79th Rescue Squadron specializes in the rescue of isolated personnel from austere airfields in denied territory using night vision goggles as well as conducts adverse weather, low level, airdrop, air land, helicopter air refueling, and forward area refueling point operations.
The 79th Rescue Squadron is a proud, fully combat-ready, and adaptive personnel recovery unit ready to fulfill combatant commander needs across the range of operations, from contested combat operations to permissive humanitarian assistance, driven by exceptionally-trained, innovative, and motivated personnel--we are flexible, prepared, and accountable experts.
The 79th Rescue Squadron is comprised of 86 total personnel: 48 officers, 34 enlisted and 3 civilians and has a fleet of six HC-130J Combat King II aircraft. The HC-130J is a Lockheed C-130 "Hercules" variant modified for Personnel Recovery. The C-130J incorporates state-of-the-art technology, which reduces manpower requirements, lowers operating and support costs, and provides life-cycle cost savings over earlier C-130 models. Compared to older C-130s, the J model climbs faster and higher, flies farther at a higher cruise speed, and takes off and lands in a shorter distance. It is a 103 million dollar aircraft with four Rolls Royce AE2100D3 turboprop engines that each generates 4,591 propeller shaft horsepower. It has a 132.7ft Wingspan, 97.9ft Length, 38.9ft Height, and has a maximum takeoff weight of 175,000 lbs. The HC-130J can travel at an indicated speed of 316 knots at sea level, has a range of over 4,000 miles, and a ceiling of 33,000 feet.
Recent accomplishments include:
In 2017 the 79th Rescue Squadron supported rescue and recovery operations in support of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Nate and were on standby for Hurricane Maria. 1,424 people and 90 animal were saved and 31.4 short tons of equipment were delivered in support of Harvey in Texas. In 2015 the 79th was one of only two squadrons to be recognized with the Meritorious Unit Award for exceptionally meritorious service from 1 June 2013 to 31 May 2015.
In May 2014, two HC-130Js from the 79th Rescue Squadron flew pararescue jumpers and refueled three HH-60G Pave Hawks helicopters to rescue two critically burned Chinese sailors in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Mexico, saving both sailors. In July 2013 the first combat deployment of the HC-130J Combat King was performed by the 79th Rescue Squadron in support of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE, flying out of Trapani Birgi Base, Italy. The 79th was deployed for 21 months, flew combat missions totaling 250 combat hours and 262 combat support missions. In March 2013 the 79th reached Initial Operational Capability (IOC) six weeks earlier than programmed and also flew its first Civil Search and Rescue Mission prior to the IOC announcement.
The 79th Rescue Squadron moved into its new 26 thousand square foot, five million dollar facility in December 2012 and received its first HC-130J Combat King II on November 15, 2012. On March 2, 2012, four members of the 79th Rescue Squadron received the Distinguished Flying Cross for a mission while deployed in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
In 2011, the 79th Rescue Squadron completed an eight month Operation ENDURING FREEDOM deployment, where it executed 1,215 combat sorties, saving the lives of 334 allied, coalition, and Afghan military and civilian personnel. The 79th participated in a Haitian relief mission during the evening of 13 January 2010 to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. During this mission, they delivered more than 13,000 pounds of cargo that include vehicles and equipment as well as dropping off airfield operations personnel to help set up the airfield in Port-au-Prince.
The 79th Rescue Squadron was first activated on 14 November 1952, as part of the 11th Air Rescue Group (later the 2d Air Rescue Group, and then, the Air Rescue Service) at Anderson AFB, Guam, operating the SB-29 “Super Dumbo” a B-29 Superfortress variant. They conducted search, rescue, and recovery services in the western Pacific, including some missions in the Korean War.
The squadron was deactivated 18 September 1960, and then reactivated 10 May 1961 under Air Rescue Service as the 79th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron (later, Aerospace and Recovery Service, then Pacific Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Center, then 41st Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Wing) continuing the same mission, but including some missions to Southeast Asia. The unit also supported U.S. space recovery operations during the late 1960s and was deactivated 30 June 1972. Numerous aircraft were employed throughout this period including the C-47 from 1952-1954, SH-19 from 1955-1960, SC/HC-54 from 1961-1966, HC-130 from 1966-1972, and the HH-43 from 1971-1972.
On 1 Apr 1993, the unit was redesignated 79th Rescue Flight and activated on 1 May 1993 flying the HH-1 Iroquois. They were part of the 321st Operations Group, later the 321st Missile Group, at Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota, providing search, rescue, and recovery services in the area around Grand Forks. The unit was deactivated on 1 July 1998.
On March 14, 2003, the 79th Rescue Squadron was reactivated, under the 355th Operations Group at Davis-Monthan AFB, operating the HC-130P and HC-130E. In October 2003 the 79th Rescue Squadron was re-aligned under the 563d Rescue Group and the 23d Wing.
Korean Service; Vietnam Service
Presidential Unit Citation 1 Jul 67 – 26 Jul 69.
Meritorious Unit Award 1 Jun 13 - 31 May 15; 1 Jun 11 – 31 Jan 12; 1 Jun 08 – 31 May 10.
Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation: Western Pacific, 1 Jul 1967 – 26 Jul 1969.
Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards: 1 Jun 06 – 31 May 08; 1 Nov 04 – 31 Jul 06; 1 Oct 03 – 31 Oct 04;
1 Oct 96 – 30 Sep 97; 1 Oct 94 – 31 Sep 96, 1 Jun 69 – 31 May 71; 1 Jul 66 – 31 May 68;
27 Dec 64 – 27 Apr 66.
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor 1 Jan 10 – 21 Dec 10
(Current as of 25 Oct 2017)