PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Air Force Reserve search and rescue professionals from the 920th Rescue Wing here train in and around Patrick Air Force Base's lush maritime surroundings regularly to be the best and uphold their motto, these things we do, that others may live .
Two drop zones which come into regular use by them for jump training, Judy and Ferreria DZ, are named after fallen pararescuemen whose passing took place 29 years ago.
A CH-3 helicopter crash off the coast of Patrick AFB took their lives along with three other Airmen. Lost were: Capts. Jan F. Fuchs and David Schaeffner, both with the Eastern Space and Missile Center, and Tech. Sgt. Ronald Martinez, Staff Sgt. Mark R. Judy and Airman 1st Class James Ferreria, all assigned to Detachment 15, 39th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Wing, here.
According to the Patrick Air Force base newspaper, The Missileer dated April 20, 1984, the helicopter crashed shortly after 2 a.m., Saturday, April 7, while flying surface surveillance for the scheduled launch of a Trident 1 missile from the USS Georgia.
"I was on the team," said Senior Master Sgt. Craig Kennedy, manpower technician, 920th RQW, who served as a pararescumen with Det. 15 long ago as part of operation that night. He and several other PJs launched aboard a boat to serve as a backup medical team should something go awry with the mission.
Sergeants Judy and Kennedy were best friends.
"When we returned from our mission, the hangar was lit up like broad daylight," said Sergeant Kennedy who said he was unaware of the crash until they saw the increased activity and flurry of people including the director of operations who explained the situation.
He and his team were sent to the crash site help.
"The helo was floating upside down," said Sergeant Kennedy when they arrived to the crash site, 60 miles off the coas. "Then it sunk in 2,400 feet of (ocean) water."
Three survivors had been recovered. They were: Capt. William Fizgerald and Lts. James O'Hearn and Scott Schafer, all with Det. 15.
For five days, rescue crews continued to search for the five missing Airmen logging nearly 200 flying hours and covering between 25-30,000 square miles seeking any signs of life.
"We never did get the bodies," said Sergeant Kennedy, but later the helicopter was found when looking for Space Shuttle Challenger after an accident caused it to break apart shortly after liftoff January 28, 1986, which Sergeant Kennedy witnessed while serving as rescue support for the astronauts that day.
The search was ended after five days on April 11 following extensive consultations between Air Force and Coast Guard Officials.
These Airmen lived by the pararescue motto that wing Airmen continue to live, train and deploy by today, these things we do that others may live.
The primary mission of the 920th RQW is a combat-search-and-rescue. The unit is also tasked as the primary rescue force for NASA astronauts during lift off and local civilian search and rescue, as well as humanitarian relief.
For more information about the 920th RQW log on to the wing's Web site: www.920rqw.afrc.af.mil
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