210th Rescue Squadron [210th RQS]
Nicknamed "The Second 10th", the 210th RQS has been bestowed the Lineage and Honors history of the 10th Air Rescue Squadron (ARS), an active duty squadron organized at Elmendorf Field in 1946 and mostly manned by Alaskans. The 10th had itself inherited the tradition of the 924th Quartermaster Company, Boat (Aviation), a rescue unit which was constituted in Alaska on 14 June 1942, saw action during the Aleutian Island Campaign, was redesigned the 10th Emergency Rescue Boat Squadron on 3 July 1944, and was deactivated on 8 March 1946. Expanded into the 10th Air Rescue Group on 14 November 1952, the subordinate Alaska Air Command unit became the 71st Air Rescue Squadron and pioneered arctic search and rescue techniques. The parent 10th ARG was deactivated on 8 January 1958 and the 71st ARS was deactivated between 18 March 1960 and 8 March 1970. After re-activation, the 71st served Alaska proudly during the 1970s and 1980s including the rescue of 74 people off the sinking cruiseship Prinsendam in the Gulf of Alaska on 4 October 1980.
In 1987, the Air Force announced the 71st would again be deactivated. But the tradition of arctic search and rescue would continue; Alaska Senator Ted Stevens introduced legislation creating a new search and rescue unit for the Alaska Air National Guard. The 210th ARS received federal recognition from the National Guard Bureau on 4 April 1990 and the unit activation ceremony was held at Kulis ANG Base on 11 August 1990. The 210th took delivery of its new Sikorsky HH-60 "Pave Hawk" search and rescue helicopters between June and August 1990 and new Lockheed HC-130 search/tanker aircraft in November and December 1990. The unit achieved initial operational capability faster than the normal Air Force programming process normally allows.
The 210th began sharing the 24 hour Alaska Theater overland helicopter Search and Rescue alert with the deactivating 71st ARS on 1 January 1991 and assumed the entire helicopter Alert on 1 April 1991. The HC-130 began daytime alert in April 1991 and assumed 24 hour Alert in May 1991. The 71st ARS completed deactivation on 30 June 1991. (Subsequently, the 71st ARS has been re-activated as an active Air Force unit at Patrick AFB, FL). In January 1992, the 210th achieved combat-ready status. In 1993, additional aircraft were added to the squadron inventory. On 1 January 1994, Detachment 1, 210th RQS was activated at Eielson AFB, AK to perform search and rescue for Eielson based fighters and to perform logistical range support for the northern military ranges. In early 1995 more new HH-60 aircraft joined the 210th and the original HH-60s were transferred to other units. In 1996, the squadron received new HC-130's aircraft and transferred its original HC-130s to another unit. The 210th possesses state-of-the-art "force multipliers". Its Pararescue section is Emergency Medical Technician qualified.
The wartime mission of the 210th is combat search and rescue to locate and recover downed fighter pilots. The day-to day mission is to perform an 11AF 24-hour Alaska Theater Search and Rescue Alert. A by-product of the two missions is civilian search and rescue. The 210th is the busiest Air Force combat search and rescue squadron in the world. To date, the 210th has launched on over 500 missions resulting in over 300 lives saved and over 100 lives assisted. The 210th Rescue Squadron passed its 310th rescue in 1996.
Other noteworthy squadron accomplishments include the USAF HH-60 Pave Hawk high altitude save record of 14,400 feet set on Mt. McKinley in May 1991; rapid deployment to Alert, NWT, Canada, near the North Pole in support of the rescue of the victims of a crashed Canadian Forces C-130 known as "Boxtop 22"; six long-range overwater missions to ships at sea; deployments to Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia and Turkey in the to provide combat search and rescue capability in support of coalition forces in Operations Northern and Southern Watch; selection as the official US representative to the five annual Russia/US/Canada International Search and Rescue Exercises held in those countries respectively in 1993-1997; and contributions to the Excellent rating received by the 176 Group in its first Operational Readiness Inspection from the Pacific Air Forces Inspector General in May 1994.
On 1 October 1996, the squadron entered a conversion to deployment tasking from its previous in-place generation tasking. In 1997, its Pararescuemen performed several rare operational parachute jump missions to persons in distress.
Personnel from the 210th RQS took part in the 2000 edition of the Canadian Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) from September 15-20, along with personnel from the 23rd STS, based at Hurlburt Field, FL, and the 24th STS, based at Hulburt Field, FL. This was the first time in 15 years that Americans units had participated in the annual Canadian exercise. The unit flies two types of aircraft: four HC-130 Hercules, modified for rescue duty with an ability to provide aerial refueling to helicopters and extended loiter time for search and rescue operations; and HH-60L Pavehawk helicopters, equipped with hoists, are designed to enable aircrews to perform their missions with singular accuracy.
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