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Silicon Valley Air National Guard unit conducts over-water rescue for 1,016th life saved

By Capt. Roderick Bersamina | 129th Rescue Wing | April 20, 2017

MOFFETT AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Calif. - Early Tuesday morning, the 129th Rescue Wing rescued a man from the fishing vessel Gutsy Lady 4, which was approximately 600 miles off the California coast.

The mission included two HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, one MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft, and one 4-man Guardian Angel pararescue team.

Once the 129th RQW personnel reached the ship, the Guardian Angel team boarded the fishing vessel and stabilized and secured the patient before hoisting him onto their helicopter. The Guardian Angel team provided care to the patient on board the helicopter until they arrived that evening at San Jose Regional Medical Center.

"The 129th Rescue Wing saves lives by air, land and sea when others do not have the capabilities to respond," said Col. Taft Aujero, 129th RWQ commander. "Whether at home or abroad, our Citizen-Airmen are always ready to execute."

On Sunday, the 129th RQW accepted the mission from Coast Guard District 11 and established a direct line of communication with the Gutsy Lady 4, which at the time was about 1,100 miles west of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Over the weekend, the 129th Rescue Wing launched an MC-130P Combat Shadow to the Gutsy Lady 4 to immediately deliver a medication bundle which it dropped to the fishing vessel. The unit's medical teams confirmed the injured patient was stable and determined that the safest course of action was to have the fishing vessel set a course back to the mainland while the unit made plans to extract the patient at a closer distance of at least 600 miles from the California coast.

"This was a high-risk mission today, mainly based off of the overall distance," said Maj. Nate Nowaski, the mission's Search and Rescue duty officer. "Commanders weigh that risk based off the patient's overall medical status and urgency and we do our best to mitigate any additional risks to the patient, the fishing vessel crew and our own rescue crews."

One KC-130J aircraft from the Marine Aerial Refueling Transport Squadron 352 (VMGR 352), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Miramar also departed to provide the 129th RQW with additional aerial refueling support. This is the second time this year that the 129th RQW worked in conjunction with its joint partners on a civilian rescue operation.

The 129th RQW is credited with saving the lives of more than 1,000 people. From arid deserts and snow-covered mountaintops to urban and rural settings, 129th Rescue Wing air Guard members can reach any destination by land, air or sea. Equipped with MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft, HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters and Guardian Angel teams (pararescuemen, combat rescue officers and SERE (survival, evasion, resistance and escape) specialists, the 129th Rescue Wing conducts combat search and rescue missions, as well as the rescue of isolated people on board ships, lost or injured hikers and medical evacuations across the West Coast.