Harman Patil (Editor)

56th Rescue Squadron

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Country  United States
Garrison/HQ  RAF Lakenheath
Role  Search and Rescue
56th Rescue Squadron
Active  1952–1960; 1972–1975; 1988-present
Branch  United States Air Force
Part of  United States Air Forces in Europe - Air Forces Africa

The 56th Rescue Squadron is part of the 48th Operations Group, 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, England. It operates HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters conducting search and rescue missions. It will relocation to Aviano Air Base, Italy starting in 2017.



The 56th Rescue Squadron is a combat-ready search and rescue squadron of HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters capable of executing all-weather search and rescue missions day or night in hostile environments in support of USAFE, USEUCOM, and NATO operations. It employs a state-of-the-art communications and navigation system along with advanced search and rescue equipment. The squadron is capable of deploying to any theater of operations in the world.


The 56th flew search and rescue, and medical evacuation, in North Africa and southern Europe from, November 1952-March 1960.

Vietnam War

It flew combat missions in Southeast Asia from, 10 July 1972 – 15 August 1973, to include search and rescue, airborne mission control, and aerial refueling. The squadron continued to perform local search and rescue until February 1975. On 1 April 1972 the 39th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron was inactivated and its aircraft and crews temporarily became part of Detachment 4 of the 3d Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Group at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base. On 8 July 1972 the detachment was replaced by the 56th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron.

On 12 April 1975 the squadron's HC-130Ps supported Operation Eagle Pull, the evacuation of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

On 15 October 1975 the squadron was inactivated at Korat and its 4 remaining HC-130Ps joined the 40th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron.

Operations from Iceland and the United Kingdom

It flew search and rescue support to the Iceland Defense Force from, May 1988-September 2006.

In 2011 a detachment of helicopters from the 56th deployed on board the USS Ponce (LPD-15).


  • Constituted as the 56th Air Rescue Squadron on 17 October 1952
  • Activated on 14 November 1953 Discontinued and inactivated on 18 March 1960
  • Activated on 8 July 1972
  • Redesignated 56th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron on 10 July 1972 Inactivated on 15 October 1975
  • Activated on 1 May 1988
  • Redesignated 56th Air Rescue Squadron on 1 June 1989 Redesignated 56th Rescue Squadron on 1 February 1993



  • 7th Air Rescue Group, 14 November 1952 (attached to 5th Air Division until 28 February 1953)
  • 12th Air Rescue Group, 8 December 1956
  • Air Rescue Service, 18 February 1958 - 18 March 1960 (attached European Rescue Operations Center)
  • 3d Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Group, 8 July 1972
  • 41 Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Wing (later 41 Rescue and Weather Reconnaissance Wing, 20 Aug 1972-15 Oct 1975 (attached to 3d Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Group)
  • 39th Special Operations Wing, 1 May 1988
  • 41st Rescue and Weather Reconnaissance Wing, 1 April 1989
  • Air Rescue Service, 1 August 1989
  • Air Forces Iceland, 1 February 1993
  • 35th Operations Group, 31 May 1993
  • 85th Operations Group, 1 October 1994
  • 85th Group, 1 July 1995
  • 48th Operations Group, 28 June 2006 – present
  • Stations

  • Sidi Slimane Air Base, French Morocco], 14 November 1952 – 18 March 1960
  • Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, 8 July 1972 – 15 October 1975
  • Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland, 1 May 1988
  • RAF Lakenheath, England, 1 June 2006 – present
  • Aircraft

  • Sikorsky H-5 Dragonfly (1952–1953)
  • Grumman SA-16 Albatross (1952–1960)
  • Douglas SC-47 Skytrain (1953–1956)
  • Sikorsky SH-19 (1953–1960)
  • Lockheed HC-130 Hercules (1972–1975)
  • Kaman HH-43 Huskie (1972–1975)
  • Sikorsky HH-3 Jolly Green Giant (1988–1992)
  • Sikorsky HH-60 Pave Hawk (1992 – present)
  • References

    56th Rescue Squadron Wikipedia

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