Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

129th Rescue Wing

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Active  1955 – present
Allegiance  California
Type  Wing
Country  United States
Branch  Air National Guard
Role  Search and Rescue
129th Rescue Wing

The 129th Rescue Wing (129 RQW) is a unit of the California Air National Guard, stationed at Moffett Federal Airfield, Mountain View, California. If activated to federal service, the Wing is gained by the United States Air Force Air Combat Command.



Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the 129th Rescue Wing's mission is to train and prepare to perform its wartime mission of combat search and rescue anywhere in the world. The unit also works closely with the Coast Guard and various civil agencies on state missions. Equipped with MC-130P Combat Shadow variants of the C-130 Hercules, HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters, and the Guardian Angel weapon system, the 129th has performed a wide variety of civilian search and rescue missions, including distressed persons aboard ships, lost or injured hikers, and medical evacuations.

The primary mission is to prepare for wartime taskings as specified by applicable gaining commands. The peacetime mission is under the control of the Governor of California. Upon mobilization, primary specified mission is combat search and rescue (CSAR). When directed by the California State Office of Emergency Services (OES) and/or the Department of Defense (DoD), the mission is to provide disaster relief support as required. This includes search and rescue (SAR) assistance to civil authorities, including International Civil Aeronautics Organization (ICAO) signatories, and foreign governments.

Federal Mission (United States Air Force): To provide manpower, material and equipment resources to conduct and complete combat search and rescue operations on a worldwide basis. To provide manpower, material and equipment to conduct and complete peacetime search operations.

State Mission (California Air National Guard): To furnish trained personnel to respond to state emergencies, such as natural disasters, and to assist civil authorities in the enforcement of the law.


  • 129th Operations Group (129 OG)
  • 129th Rescue Squadron (129 RQS) HH-60 130th Rescue Squadron (130 RQS) MC-130P 131st Rescue Squadron (131 RQS) ParaRescue
  • 129th Maintenance Group (129 MXG)
  • 129th Mission Support Group (129 MSG)
  • 129th Medical Group (129 MDG)
  • Insignia

    The Air Force Shield, bordered in white, a gold and blue background with two elongated stars in the blue field. A silver braid sword with red handle and hand protector divides the gold and blue fields. Superimposed over the sword and both fields is an olive wreath in green. The unit name is in blue on a white scroll.

    The emblem bears the colors of deep blue and gold for the Air Force and the colors red, white and blue for the United States of America. The sword symbolizes strength in war; the wreath symbolizes the peacetime mission. The deep blue field with the two stars and the gold field signify the nighttime and daytime environments in which the wing operates.


    Formed on 3 April 1955 as the 129th Air Resupply Group by the California Air National Guard. The 129th was a new organization with no prior history or lineage. It was granted recognition by the National Guard Bureau and was stationed at Hayward Airport, California.

    Special operations

    The 129th ARG was initially assigned to the Military Air Transport Service. It was designated at the time as a "Psychological Warfare" unit which supported USAF unconventional warfare (guerrilla warfare), direct action (commando-type raids), strategic reconnaissance (intelligence gathering), and PSYWAR operations. Later in 1955, control was transferred to Fourth Air Force, Continental Air Command. The unit's mission was airlift of personnel and material using C-46 aircraft. In 1958, control was transferred to Eighteenth Air Force, Tactical Air Command with the mission remaining the same.

    In 1963 the first major mission change for the 129th occurred. Situations around the world produced a need for specialized units which could insert a small group of trained combat troops on land or sea anywhere at a moments notice. The 129th was tasked as one of the representatives of the National Guard in the Air Force's Air Commando Group structure. The C-46 was replaced with Helio U-10A and U-10D Couriers. During a three-year period starting in 1965, the U-10s belonging to the 143d and other Air National Guard units were transferred back to the Air Force for use in South Vietnam, during which the "Helio" was replaced by DeHavilland U-6 "Beavers". The 129th later acquired C-119 Flying Boxcars and its named changed to Special Operations Group.

    Aerospace Rescue and Recovery

    In April 1975, the 129th received a new mission, designation and Air Force Command. Shortly afterward, the Wing also changed aircraft and operating base. The Wing's name became the 129th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Group (ARRG) and in 1984 the 129 ARRG completed its programmed move to Moffett Field, California. In October 1989, the 129 ARGG was designated as the 129th Air Rescue Group (ARG). Operations began to convert from HH-3E Jolly Green Giant helicopter to the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter. The conversion was complete in 1991.

    Though the mission of search and rescue has continued, the Group has continued to reflect reorganizations within the USAF. In March 1992, the name of the 129th Air Rescue Group was shortened to simply 129th Rescue Group and in June 1992, it became a Rescue Wing. In April 1997 Air Combat Command evaluated the 129th Rescue Wing's war capability as an overall Excellent during its Operational Readiness Inspection. Today, the 129th Rescue Wing continues its search and rescue operations on a global scale.

    The motto of the 129th Rescue Wing, "That Others May Live", refers to the primary mission of the Wing - to save lives. The members of the 129th have performed rescues under a variety of conditions - from rough Pacific seas to the rugged Sierra Nevada. The using its combination of HC-130 tankers and HH-60 helicopters. Many high-risk lifesaving missions involved long-range, over-water flights, air refueling of helicopters by the HC-130 aircraft, and skilled maneuvering by ships and helicopters to recover patients from the decks of these vessels. On 3 September 1991, the 129th recovered a sailor from the merchant ship White Mana, the Group's 200th "save". Since its designation as a rescue unit in 1975, the 129th has directly saved the lives of 300 people

    In 1990, the 129th began supporting U.S. Customs in the seizure of illegal drugs, as well as illegal animal and plant products, during cargo inspections. The unit has performed a number of humanitarian missions to foreign countries. From 1989-1991, the 129th deployed to sites in South America to assist in constructing hospital and school facilities.

    During Desert Shield/Storm in 1990 and 1991, the 129th deployed personnel to both overseas and stateside locations. Three pararescuemen volunteered for combat operations and teams from the 129th Medical Squadron deployed to England, Saudi Arabia and Travis AFB. Individual members of the 129th volunteered to backfill for deployed active duty members. In July 1993, 129th members deployed to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as part of rescue force coverage for Southwest Asia.

    2 July 2008, crews from the 129th Rescue Squadron were certified to perform water bucket operations, making the 129th the only rescue unit in the Air Force and Air National Guard qualified to fight fires.

    The 129th has been routinely assigned to support Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

    California state support missions

    As an Air National Guard unit, many of the 129th's missions involved supporting the Governor's office during times of State emergencies, including earthquakes, chemical spills, fires and floods. The 129th provided aid during floods along the Yuba River in 1959 and the Eel River in 1964-1965. During record flooding in Sonoma, Sutter and Yuba counties in Northern California, 33 lives were saved in 5 days, from 18–22 February 1986. In all, 44 lives were saved in 1986, a record rescue for the 129th. During the aftermath of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the 129th established Command Post operations and was chosen to coordinate all military aircraft activities within the Bay Area. The 129th provided air transportation for State and Federal government officials to survey damage from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and the 1991 Oakland Hills fire. The unit has also been tasked with mutual aid to state law enforcement during the 1965 Watts (Los Angeles) riots and the 1992 civil disturbance in Los Angeles.


  • Designated 129th Air Resupply Group, and allotted to California ANG, 1955
  • Extended federal recognition and activated, 3 April 1955 Re-designated: 129th Troop Carrier Group, 1 November 1958 Re-designated: 129th Air Commando Group, 1 July 1963 Re-designated: 129th Special Operations Group, 8 August 1968 Re-designated: 129th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Group, 3 May 1975 Re-designated: 129th Air Rescue Group, 1 October 1989 Re-designated: 129th Rescue Group, 16 March 1992 Status changed from Group to Wing, 1 October 1995 Re-designated: 129th Rescue Wing, 1 October 1995


  • California Air National Guard, 3 April 1955
  • Gained by: Military Air Transport Service Gained by: Fourth Air Force, Continental Air Command, 1955 Gained by: Eighteenth Air Force, Tactical Air Command, 1 November 1958 Gained by: Tactical Air Command, 1 July 1963 Gained by: Military Airlift Command, 3 May 1975 Gained by: Air Combat Command, 1 June 1992 Gained by: Air Force Special Operations Command, 1 October 2003 Gained by: Air Combat Command, 1 October 2005


  • 129th Operations Group, 1 October 1995 – Present
  • 129th Rescue Squadron, 3 April 1955 – Present
  • 130th Rescue Squadron, 1 October 2003 – Present
  • 131st Rescue Squadron, 1 October 2003 – Present
  • Stations

  • Hayward Municipal Airport, California, 3 April 1955
  • Naval Air Station Moffett Field, California, 1980
  • Moffett Federal Airfield, 1 July 1994 – Present
  • Decorations

  • Air Force Outstanding Unit Award [6]; 23 December 1964 – 17 January 1965; 1st Device, 12 June 1984 – 11 June 1986; 2nd Device, 1 April 1989 – 31 March 1991; 3rd Device, 8 June 1995 – 7 June 1997; 4th Device, 1 August 1998 – 31 July 2000; 5th Device, 1 August 2000 – 31 July 2002.
  • Governor's (California) Outstanding Unit Citation, 1 May 1986 – 30 April 1987
  • The Adjutant General's (California) Meritorious Unit Citation; 1964, 1965, 1972, 1975, 1979, 1984
  • United States Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation with Operational Distinguishing Device; 1 May 1981 – 1 October 1981; 1st Device, 26 February 1984 – 15 November 1985; 2nd Device, 31 January 2000 – 28 February 2000
  • Other wing awards and decorations

  • Air National Guard Meritorious Service Award, 1972
  • National Guard Bureau Meritorious Service Award, 1973
  • Air Force Association (Tennessee Ernie Ford Chapter), Outstanding Organization Award, 1985
  • Royal Air Force Benevolence Fund (United Kingdom) Straddling Trophy for Aircraft Concours d’Elegance Competition, International Air Tattoo ‘85, RAF Fairfield, England, 1985
  • Military Airlift Command, Distinguished Flying Unit Award
  • Air National Guard, Distinguished Flying Unit, 1987
  • Chuck Yeager Aerospace Education Award, 1993
  • Founders & Patriots of America, Outstanding National Guard Unit Award, April 1996, March 2001 and December 2004
  • Air National Guard Association, Spaatz Trophy, 1998
  • Air Force Association, Outstanding Unit Award (Outstanding ANG Unit of the Year), 1999
  • Air Combat Command Flight Safety Award, 10 October 2000 – 30 September 2001
  • Air Force Association, Outstanding ANG Flying Unit Award, 2002
  • References

    129th Rescue Wing Wikipedia

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