301st Rescue Squadron

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301st Rescue Squadron
Air Force Reserve Command.png
301st RQS Pave Hawks at Tallil Air Base.jpg
Active 1956-present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Role Search and Rescue
Part of Air Force Reserve Command
Garrison/HQ Patrick Air Force Base
Motto(s) Guardian Wings
Decorations Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
301st Rescue Squadron emblem (approved 23 January 2002)[1] 301st Rescue Squadron.png
301st Air Rescue Sqadron emblem (approved 2 December 1963)[1] 301 Air Rescue Sq emblem.png

The 301st Rescue Squadron is part of the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. It operates HH-60 Pave Hawk aircraft conducting search and rescue missions.



Grumman HU-16B Albatross

The 301st was originally activated in August 1956 at Miami International Airport, Florida as an amphibious aircraft unit, equipped with the Grumman SA-16 Albatross and began training for combat search and rescue missions. The 301st performed search and rescue and medical evacuation missions primarily over land areas of and water areas off Florida.[1] It was the first of five rescue squadrons established by Continental Air Command in the Air Force reserve in the 1950s to be activated.[2] In January 1957, the squadron performed the first rescue by a reserve unit.[3]

In 1960, the Air Force moved its units from Miami International Airport, which had become one of the busiest in the world, to Homestead Air Force Base, located south of Miami.[1] From Homestead, the squadron began participating in NASA's manned space flight rescue contingency operations for Project Mercury, beginning with Freedom 7, the first manned Mercury launch, in 1961.[4]

Squadron Bell HH-1H

In the 1970s, the squadron converted to a helicopter unit, adding a few Sikorsky HH-34s in 1971, then becoming an all-helicopter unit in 1973, when it added Bell HH-1 Hueys and lost its remaining Albatross amphibians.[1] The Hueys provided support for the Air Force's Water Survival School at Homestead and Biscayne Bay.[5] In 1974, the squadron began to operate Sikorsky HH-3 Jolly Green Giants, which had an air refueling capability. The squadron became a composite unit in 1979, when it added Lockheed HC-130 Hercules aircraft to refuel its Jolly Greens.[1] It began to provide rescue coverage for space shuttle launches in 1981, and added launch support at the Eastern Space and Missile Center (later renamed the 45th Space Wing) in 1993.[6] HH-60 Pave Hawks replaced the HH-3 Jolly Greens in 1991.[1]

When Hurricane Andrew struck south Florida in August 1992 the squadron rescued 137 residents during the 18-day humanitarian operation following Andrew's landfall.[7] However, Andrew also devastated the squadron's home station and it performed these rescues while operating from Tamiami Airport, Florida. Within a few months, the Air Force determined not to return the 301st to Homestead, and in January 1993 it moved to Patrick Air Force Base, further north in Florida.[1] After the move, on one day in March 1993, the unit saved 93 elderly residents from rising flood waters at their Tampa area retirement community.[8]

In 1997, the Air Force split its composite rescue units. The portion of the 301st flying HH-60G was retained as the 301st Rescue Squadron as it became a helicopter unit again.[1] The HC-130P/N portion of the squadron became the 39th Rescue Squadron and the pararescue portion became the 308th Rescue Squadron. The three squadrons formed the operational element of the 920th Rescue Group.[1][9][10]

The 301st has deployed crews to provide search and rescue coverage worldwide, including to Keflavík, Iceland, during and after the Gulf War, and to the Persian Gulf area since 1993.[1]


  • Constituted as the 301st Air Rescue Squadron on 9 March 1956
Activated in the reserve on 18 August 1956
  • Redesignated 301st Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron on 18 January 1966
  • Redesignated 301st Air Rescue Squadron, 1 April 1990
  • Redesignated 301st Rescue Squadron on 1 February 1992[1]


  • 2585th Air Reserve Flying Training Center, 18 August 1956
  • 2586th Air Reserve Flying Training Center, 2 June 1958
  • 14th Air Force, 25 June 1960
  • 3rd Air Force Reserve Region, 15 July 1960
  • Eastern Air Force Reserve Region, 31 December 1969
  • Western Air Force Reserve Region, 1 January 1972
  • 403d Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Wing (later 403d Rescue and Weather Reconnaissance Wing), 15 March 1976
  • 939th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Group (later 939th Air Rescue Wing, 939th Rescue Wing), 1 October 1987
  • 939th Operations Group, 1 August 1992
  • 920th Rescue Group, 15 April 1997
  • 920 Operations Group, 1 Apr 2003 – present[1]


  • Miami International Airport, Florida, 18 August 1956
  • Homestead Air Force Base, Florida, 1 August 1960 (operated from Tamiami Airport, Florida August - December 1992)
  • Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, January 1993 – present[1]


  • Grumman SA-16 (later HU-16) Albatross (1956–1973)
  • Sikorsky HH-34 (1971–1974, 1975)
  • Bell HH-1 Huey (1973–1979)
  • Sikorsky HH-3 Jolly Green Giant (1974–1991)
  • Lockheed HC-130 Hercules (1979–1997)
  • Sikorsky CH-3 Jolly Green Giant (1987–1991)
  • HH-60 Pave Hawk (1991–present)[1]




 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

See also[edit]