505th Search and Rescue Group
505th Search and Rescue Squadron
The mission of the 505th Search and Rescue Group is to conduct air search and rescue operations in support of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and civilian agency operations. Its specific functions include: Conducting search and rescue operations, air evacuations and airdrop of supplies and equipment; conducting pararescue training; performing field and organizational maintenance on aircraft and pararescue equipment; and performing other functions as directed by higher headquarters.
The 505th Search and Rescue Group traces its lineage to the Philippine Government's response to the provisions of the convention on International Civil Aviation (ICAO), whereby the Philippines committed itself to provide such measures of assistance to all aircraft in distress within the Manila Flight Information Region (FIR). In line with this commitment, the 505th Search and Rescue Squadron was activated on 12 December 1956 to be the lead rescue unit under the management, control and supervision of the then 205th Composite Wing. The Squadron's early accomplishments included hovering helicopter at the rooftop of burning Ayala Building in 1971, the massive rescue operations and distribution of much-needed relief goods to tidal wave-stricken areas in Roxas City, Capiz and Panay Island in 1984, and the rescue of 27 Vietnamese refugees who were trapped in a logging vessel in Cabra Island in June 1987.
A series of natural and man-made disasters struck the Philippines in the 1990's, including Super Typhoons, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, a major earthquake in 1991 that hit Baguio, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija and other parts of Central Luzon, and frequent sea mishaps. All these events led to the decision to expand the capabilities of the 505th Search and Rescue Squadron. Other accomplishments in the 1990s included heli-lifting trapped persons from the rooftop of the burning Legaspi Towers in 1991, Search and Rescue of missing mountaineers on Mount Makulot in 1992 and on Mount Halcon in 1994, and aerial search and underwater recovery operations surrounding the MV Viva Antipolo, which sank off Dalahikan Bay in Lucena City in 1995.
On 15 February 1996 the unit was expanded to become the 505th Search and Rescue Group. The Group consisted of 3 operation squadrons, strategically deployed: the 5051st Search and Rescue Squadron in Luzon, along with the the 5052nd Search and Rescue Squadron at an advance post in Palawan, Visayas, and the 5053rd Search and Rescue Squadron in Mindanao. The unit also featured organic support elements, the 5054th Supply Squadron and the 5055th Maintenance Squadron.
The activation of the Group also reinforced the Government's ecological preservation efforts through its occasional air support for patrolling the seas against poachers, illegal waste dumping, and oil spills. The 505th Search and Rescue Group also played an important part in safeguarding the Philippine Government's Billion-Dollar Malampaya Natural Gas Project. The unit also possessed a minor fire-fighting capability could be used to help combat forest fires.
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