A WEEKEND'S WORK - Fairchild rescue flight saves two lives
By Airman 1st Class Janelle Patiño, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 23, 2014
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. (AETCNS) -- Airmen from the 36th Rescue Flight, an Air Education and Training Command unit here, answered the call to save not only one, but two lives in one weekend.
On June 13 at 5:30 p.m., Capt. Berto Holt, the 36th RQF operations supervisor, received a call that a kayaker was stranded 70 miles southeast of Fairchild AFB. Within a few hours, the crew launched the UH-1N Huey and was en route to the man's location.
The individual had been kayaking where Marble Creek flows into the St. Joe's River when his craft flipped over, ejecting him into the cold water.
"There were some challenges that occurred during the rescue due to the weather, but the crew of Rescue 48 never gave up," said Maj. Jennings Marshall, the 36th RQF commander.
At 8:30 p.m. with the victim on board, Capt. Nate Jolls, the pilot of the rescue mission, began an approach back toward the ambulance where Maj. Montsho Corppetts, a 336th Training Support Squadron medic, awaited.
Two days later, on June 15, the crew received another emergency call at about 11:30 a.m. An injured hiker along the Pacific Crest Trail in Northern Washington needed a quick extraction after sustaining injuries from a fall.
"He had been walking along a steep and snowy section of the trail when he slipped and tumbled down the mountainside, hitting a tree and breaking several ribs," Marshall said. "Fortunately, his hiking buddy was able to call for help."
Capt. Erik Greendyke, the 36th RQF operations supervisor, worked with Marshall to assemble a crew. The crew then launched at 1 p.m. and followed the Methow River past Mazama, Wash., to the hiker's location.
"Other hikers prepared a bright orange tent along the ridgeline that helped us immediately identify the area with minimal searching," Marshall said. "As soon as we rescued the injured hiker and his buddy, the survivor was loaded onto an ambulance."
Helicopter rescue operations can be dangerous, but the 36th RQF crews constantly train to maintain proficiency in rescue operations as part of the mission to support the Air Force's only survival, evasion, resistance and escape school.
"We take great effort to ensure rescues are executed safely and with as little risk as possible," Marshall said. "Our normal training missions take place at Fairchild and in the Colville National Forest, and we have been tasked to perform civilian rescues throughout the Pacific Northwest in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Montana."
Bart Rayniak, the kayaker, was happy the Air Force "stopped by."
"I was never able to truly thank my rescuers," Rayniak said. "They were so wonderful! They put their lives on the line to save mine. They are amazing flyers and crew ... professional and caring ... damn good at what they do."