|Country United States|
Part of Air Combat Command
|Role Search and Rescue|
Garrison/HQ Nellis Air Force Base
|Active 1952–1958; 1991-present|
Branch United States Air Force
The 66th Rescue Squadron is stationed at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, where it operates HH-60 Pave Hawk aircraft conducting search and rescue and combat search and rescue missions. It is geographically separated unit of the 563rd Rescue Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, which is part of the 23d Wing at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.
The primary mission of the 66th Rescue Squadron is worldwide combat rescue in support of combat air forces. The 66 RQS is one of six Air Force active-duty HH-60 combat rescue units and is geared for worldwide deployment.
The squadron performs other vital functions in addition to worldwide combat rescue. The unit's secondary mission is to provide rescue support for air operations over the Nellis Range Complex and backup rescue for civilian agencies in the local area and the greater Southwestern United States.
Depending on the mission, a typical rescue crew may include a pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, aerial gunner and two pararescuemen. These Pararescue Jumpers, or "PJs," are qualified as combat paramedics, scuba divers, parachutists, mountain climbers and survivalists.
The unit provides rapidly deployable combat search and rescue (CSAR) forces to theater CINCs worldwide and conducts peacetime search and rescue in support of the National Search and Rescue Plan and the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center.
The 66th also directly supports HH-60G logistical and maintenance support requirements for the U.S. Air Force Weapons School and Air Combat Command-directed operational test missions.
The 66th flew search and rescue, aeromedical evacuation, disaster relief from, 1952–1958 and since 1991. The squadron deployed to Southwest Asia to ensure Iraq’s compliance with United Nations treaty terms from, January–July 1993.
The squadron has been plagued by aviation accidents in recent years. An investigation of 1998 crash that killed a dozen airmen called the unit stressed out by constant combat deployments without adequate rest.
The unit was in Afghanistan in the summer of 2010. Media reported 4 aircrew deaths in June when a Pave Hawk helicopter was shot down during a rescue mission on 9 June. Flight engineer David Smith was lost on impact. On 2 July a fifth death was added to the list of four when Captain David Wisniewski died from injuries received in the 9 June crash. Captain Wisniewski is credited with saving more than 240 soldiers during his seven tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, 40 of which were saved in his final rescue mission in June. The only two survivors Captain Anthony Simone and Master Sergeant Christopher Aguilera are still in recovery as of 25 Sept. 2010.