38th Rescue Squadron

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38th Rescue Squadron
ACC Shield.svg
USAF PJ rescuing young boy during hurricane katrina.jpg
A 38th Rescue Squadron PJ rescuing a boy during Hurricane Katrina
Active1952–1957; 1965–1971; 1978–1996; 2001–present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
RoleSearch and rescue
Direct Action
Part ofAir Combat Command
Garrison/HQMoody Air Force Base, Georgia
EngagementsKorean War
Vietnam War
Global War on Terrorism[1]
DecorationsDistinguished Unit Citation
Presidential Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Presidential Unit Citation (Korea)
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm[1]
38th Rescue Squadron emblem (Approved 2 October 2001)[1]38th Rescue Squadron.jpg

The 38th Rescue Squadron (38 RQS) is an active United States Air Force Pararescue squadron. Part of the 347th Rescue Group, 23rd Wing, it is stationed at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. The squadron flew combat search and rescue missions during the Korean War and the Vietnam War.


The 38 RQS trains, equips, and employs combat-ready pararescue and supporting personnel worldwide in support of U.S. national security interests and NASA. This squadron provides survivor contact, treatment, and extraction during combat rescue operations, and uses various fixed/rotary wing insertion/extraction assets and employs by any means available to provide combat and humanitarian search, rescue, and medical assistance in all environments.[2]


The 38th conducted search, rescue, and recovery in Japan and adjacent waters from 1952 to 1957 including supporting operations in Korea and adjacent waters from 1952 to 1953. It operated 14 search and rescue detachments in South Vietnam and Thailand from, 1965–1971. The squadron provided light-lift helicopter operations east of the Mississippi River from 1978 to 1980. It also flew rescue helicopter operations in South Korea and adjacent waters from 1981 to 1995.[1]

Vietnam War[edit]

The 38th Air Rescue Squadron was activated on 30 June 1965 at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam, and organized the next day to control detachments operating from bases in Vietnam and Thailand as follows:[1][3]

On 15 September 1965 two more detachments were organized:[3]: 70 

On 8 January 1966 the squadron was redesignated the 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron as part of the Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service,[1] and assigned to the 3rd Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Group.[3]: 75 

A further 4 detachments were later organised as follows:[3]: 113 

May 1967, the HH-3s and crews of Detachment 7 at Da Nang Air Base were reassigned to the 37th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron and the detachment closed.

During 1969–70, with US involvement in Vietnam winding down, other Detachments were moved or disbanded as follows:[3]: 113 

  • Detachment 10 was disbanded at Binh Thuy AB on 20 December 1969
  • Detachment 9 was relocated from Pleiku AB to Nakhon Phanom RTAFB on 16 February 1970
  • Detachment 8 was disbanded at Cam Ranh AB with the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing on 15 September 1970
  • Detachment 11 was disbanded on 15 October 1970 when all USAF units left Tuy Hoa AB
  • Detachment 2 was disbanded on 15 November 1970 with the return of USAF strike units from Takhli RTAFB to the US.

On 1 July 1971 the entire 38th ARRS was inactivated. Local base rescue helicopters and their crews then became detachments of the parent unit, the 3d Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Group.[3]: 113 

Operations and Losses[edit]

  • 20 September 1965, Kaman HH-43 Huskie BuNo 62-4510, callsign Dutchy 41 of Detachment 1, Nakhon Phanom Air Base was on a CSAR for Essex 04, an F-105D piloted by Capt Willis E. Forby,[4] over North Vietnam. The HH-43 was hit by ground fire and crashed in the jungle. Pilot Captain Thomas J. Curtis, Crew Chief Sergeant William A. Robinson, and P.J. Arthur Black were all captured by the North Vietnamese Army and taken to a POW camp in North Vietnam. They were later released during Operation Homecoming. Co-Pilot 1LT Duane W. Martin, was captured by the Pathet Lao and taken to a POW camp in Laos. On 29 June 1966, Martin, LTJG Dieter Dengler and other prisoners overpowered their guards and escaped. Martin was later attacked and killed by a Laotian villager,[5] while Dengler was eventually rescued by a Jolly Green of the 37th ARRS.
  • 6 November 1965, CH-3E BuNo 63-9685 on CSAR for CAPT George G. McKnight[6] pilot of Sandy 14 an A-1E over North Vietnam was hit by ground fire. 3 of the crew became POWs while the 4th crewman was rescued. This was the first Jolly Green loss in combat.
  • 11 April 1966, an HH-43 of Detachment 6 based at Bien Hoa Air Base was called to medevac wounded of the 1st Infantry Division which were surrounded by enemy forces near Xa Cam My, east of Saigon. Pararescueman A1C William H. Pitsenbarger was lowered by winch and spent an hour and a half treating the wounded and evacuating nine wounded soldiers on five HH-43 flights. On the sixth approach, Pitsenbarger's HH-43 was hit, forcing it to cut the hoist line and pull out for an emergency landing at the nearest strip. Pitsenbarger continued to treat the wounded, collected rifles and ammunition from the dead and distributed them to the men still able to fight and returned enemy fire before being fatally hit. Pitsenbarger was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross. On 8 December 2000 Pitsenbarger was also awarded the Medal of Honor.[7]
  • 28 October 1966, HH-43 BuNo 62-4511 callsign Pedro 42 was medevacing wounded of the 4th Infantry Division at night 60 km west of Pleiku Air Base when it was hit by ground fire and crashed. The flight engineer[8] and 3 soldiers were killed in the crash, while the copilot later died from injuries.[9]
  • 6 February 1967, Jolly Green 05, HH-3E BuNo 65-12779 had rescued CAPT Lucius L. Heiskell[10] pilot of Nail 65 an O-1F FAC when it was hit by ground fire and crashed near the Mu Gia Pass, North Vietnam. Heiskell, the pilot, copilot and flight engineer were KIA-BNR,[11][12][13] while the pararescueman Duane D. Hackney survived the crash and was rescued by Jolly Green 36
  • 8 May 1967, HH-43 BuNo 63-9715 callsign Pedro 96 of Detachment 7 was shot down while trying to rescue 4 Marines.
  • 21 May 1967, HH-43 BuNo 63-9711 callsign Pedro 73, Bien Hoa Air Base was flying CSAR for CAPT David Lindberg[14] pilot of Ramrod 02 an F-100D when it was hit by ground fire and made an emergency landing; it was later destroyed on the ground.
  • 7 February 1968, HH-43 BuNo 62-4525 callsign Pedro 56 of Detachment 9, Pleiku Air Base was assisting in the recovery of the crew of a downed Army helicopter near Kontum when it was hit by ground fire and crashed. The flight engineer died in the crash.[15]
  • 27 September 1968, an HH-43 of Detachment 13, Phu Cat Air Base took off to recover the crew of a downed Army helicopter approximately 30 km north of Phu Cat. At a height of 300 feet above the pickup point, the helicopter received ground fire and the pilot Major David H Pittard, was hit in the chest and killed.[16] The helicopter returned safely to Phu Cat.
  • 10 October 1968, HH-43B Tail No 58-1845 callsign Pedro 44, assigned to Detachment 1, Phan Rang Air Base, was scrambled with the fire suppression kit (FSK) to stand by for the emergency landing of a B-57. Pedro 44 entered a left-hand climbing turn over the airfield when it crashed and burned, killing all 5 crewmembers.[17][18][19][20][21]
  • 19 July 1969, HH-43B Tail No 59-1562 callsign Pedro 70, at U-Tapao Air Base, was flying SAR over a B-52 which had aborted its takeoff run and crash with a full load of fuel and bombs. Pedro 70 was looking for the tail gunner who was believed to be trapped in the B-52 when the B-52 exploded causing Pedro 70 to crash killing 2 crewmembers[22][23]

Postwar service[edit]


  • Constituted as the 38th Air Rescue Squadron on 17 October 1952
Activated on 14 November 1952
Inactivated on 18 September 1957
  • Activated on 30 June 1965 (not organized)
Organized on 1 July 1965
Redesignated 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron on 8 January 1966
Inactivated on 1 July 1971
  • Activated on 1 July 1978
Redesignated 38th Air Rescue Squadron on 1 June 1989
Redesignated 38th Rescue Squadron on 1 February 1993
Redesignated 38th Rescue Flight on 1 July 1994
Inactivated on 15 February 1996
  • Redesignated 38th Rescue Squadron on 2 April 2001
Activated on 1 May 2001[1]




See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Dollman, TSG David (19 October 2016). "Factsheet 38 Rescue Squadron (ACC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 5 May 2015.Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ "347 RQG Fact Sheet". Archived from the original on 13 January 2009. Retrieved 10 July 2008.Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Tilford, Earl (1980). Search and Rescue in Southeast Asia 1961–1975 (PDF). Office of Air Force History. p. 70. ISBN 9781410222640. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 July 2018.Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  4. ^ "LCOL Willis Forby, Silver Star". Military Times.
  5. ^ "CAPT Duane W Martin". The Virtual Wall. Archived from the original on 26 February 2012.
  6. ^ "CAPT George McKnight, Air Force Cross". Military Times.
  7. ^ "Airman 1st Class William H. Pitsenbarger". National Museum of the US Air Force. Archived from the original on 13 January 2009. Retrieved 13 February 2010.Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  8. ^ "A2C Francis D Rice". The Virtual Wall.
  9. ^ "2LT George H Bonnell". The Virtual Wall.
  10. ^ "MAJ Lucius L Heiskell". The Virtual Wall.
  11. ^ "COL Patrick H Wood". The Virtual Wall.
  12. ^ "COL Richard A Kibbey". The Virtual Wall.
  13. ^ "CMS Donald J Hall". The Virtual Wall.
  14. ^ "CAPT David C Lindberg". The Virtual Wall.
  15. ^ "SGT Jose G Abara". The Virtual Wall.
  16. ^ "MAJ David H Pittard". The Virtual Wall.
  17. ^ "CAPT Von Liebernecht". The Virtual Wall.
  18. ^ "MAJ Donald R Brooks". The Virtual Wall.
  19. ^ "SSGT Milard L Bledsoe". The Virtual Wall.
  20. ^ "TSGT Emmett S Orr". The Virtual Wall.
  21. ^ "TSGT Angel Luna". The Virtual Wall.
  22. ^ "MAJ Warren K Davis". The Virtual Wall.
  23. ^ "TSGT Harry Cohen". The Virtual Wall.


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

See also[edit]