57th RQS activation provides stronger, more efficient force
By Airman 1st Class Dawn M. Weber, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 19, 2015
ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- They are trained to risk it all to save a life, going anywhere necessary to rescue a wounded service member. Whether it be in a turbulent environment or hostile territory, pararescuemen are willing to serve "that others may live."
The 48th Fighter Wing activated a new squadron, the 57th Rescue Squadron, with a ceremony here, Feb. 18. The 57th RQS is comprised of about 30 pararescuemen and equipment personnel already stationed at RAF Lakenheath. The 56th RQS continues to operate and maintain the HH-60G Pave Hawks.
According to Maj. Patrick Gruber, 57th RQS commander, in the early 2000s, Air Force rescue squadrons began to separate their weapons systems and activate Guardian Angel squadrons, populated by combat rescue officers, pararescuemen and survival, evasion, resistance, and escape specialists. Due to their extensive training, these battlefield Airmen are considered weapons systems, along with the aircraft they use for transport.
"As long as we are flying combat missions over hostile territory, there is a need for people like we have here today," said Col. Scottie Zamzow, 48th Operations Group commander.
The first Guardian Angel squadron was established at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, in 2001. The most recent rescue squadron stood up in 2004 as the 48th rescue squadron at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.
"Today, the fifth and final active duty Air Force Guardian Angel rescue squadron has broken apart from its helicopter rescue squadron," Gruber said.
This activation aligns the U.S. Air Forces in Europe personnel recovery mission to the standard U.S. Air Force structure and will improve training opportunities and support new operational requirements in the U.S. European Command and U.S. African Command areas of responsibility.
According to Gruber, as the security environment around the world changes, so must U.S. forces. The U.S. makes changes to personnel and operations based on this environment in order to better support U.S. and Allied interests with a stronger and more efficient force.
"To be commander of the 57th RQS is an amazing feeling," Gruber said. "I'm so proud to be your commander, to answer the challenge with you to provide personnel recovery wherever and whenever we are called."