Patrick Air Force Base’s 920th Rescue Wing lives up to motto

Veterans’ Advocate


When the call comes to make a rescue for anyone, whether at war, far out in the Atlantic Ocean or in a hurricane-devastated area, the men and women of the 920th Rescue Wing always are ready and eager to go and save a life.

They truly live up to the essence of their motto: “That others may live.”

I know of many stories of airmen from the unit who went back again and again to war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan for combat rescue missions as well as deploying to the Horn of Africa.

Many civilians have become familiar with the unit because it also answers the calls to rescue people in the United States from difficult and life-threatening situations. We saw that with the people they saved in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. They also were ready for more rescues following Hurricane Irma even after they had to relocate their aircrafts because of the latest hurricane at the time.

Maj. Cathleen Snow, a spokeswoman for the unit, which is headquartered at Patrick Air Force Base, said they saved 235 people and 26 pets in the Houston area following Hurricane Harvey. They remained on standby to respond in Florida after Irma.

“They were called for Irma as soon as they came back (from Texas),” Snow said. “They never got off alert. That way, they were ready.”

The combat rescue unit canvassed South Florida and the Florida Keys looking for those that needed rescue. They did not find anyone needing air rescue.

“Some of these guys are (traditional) reservists and they had to get their employers to work with them.” Snow said. “And they had to secure their own homes.”

In addition to wars and hurricanes, they have rescued people stranded at sea, on mountains and anywhere else they are called upon to make a difficult rescue.

Some of these citizen airmen also have jumped in to save others while off duty. They have come to the rescue of people in accidents, pulled people from rip currents and saved some from drowning.

I am talking about an elite unit of airmen who are not just highly trained, but totally dedicated to their craft of doing whatever it takes to save a life. They are among the best in the U.S. military.