The 33rd Rescue Squadron hovers over one of two downed pilots during a simulated crisis management exercise off the coast of Okinawa Oct. 8, 2008. U.S. Air Force and Japanese Coast Guard assets rehearsed response procedures for an over the water aircraft accident. Nine members of the 31st RQS recently deployed to Balad Air Base, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Amanda Grabiec)
January 23, 2009 - Kadena Air Base, Japan -- Nine members of the 18th Wing's 31st Rescue Squadron deployed to Iraq this month to join the 41st Expeditionary Rescue Squadron in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The 41st ERQS maintains 24-hour alert and conducts combat search and rescue missions to retrieve any U.S., Coalition, and host nation personnel who become isolated or injured.
Prior to deploying, the 31st Rescue Squadron conducted desert familiarization training at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz. They trained with the Davis-Monthan-based 55th Rescue Squadron to prepare for the conditions they will encounter during their three-month deployment to Balad Air Base, Iraq.
Senior Airman Oliver Smith, (left) and Staff Sgt. Jonathan Courtright, (far right) both from the 31st Rescue Squadron, secure a downed F-15 pilot and signal to the flight engineer to hoist them onboard an HH-60 during a crisis management exercise off the coast of Okinawa Oct. 8, 2008. Members of the 18th Wing and Japanese Coast Guard rehearsed response procedures for a simulated over the water aircraft accident. Nine members of the 31st RQS recently deployed to Balad Air Base, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Chrissy Best)
Kadena's 31st Rescue Squadron trains, equips and employs combat-ready pararescue specialists. Experts in small-unit tactics and medical care, pararescue specialists are able to rescue injured personnel from hostile or denied territory. Also known as PJs, 31st Rescue Squadron pararescue specialists are trained to use a variety of fixed-wing and rotary aircraft during their missions.
This is the 31st Rescue Squadron's second deployment to Iraq since 2007.
"The requirement for personnel recovery has grown over the last couple of years," said Maj. Jason Pifer, 31st Rescue Squadron commander. "Now more than ever, it is critical that we are prepared to do our part in support of the ongoing Global War on Terrorism." (pacaf.af.mil)
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