PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Famine, war and drought have forced 13.3 million people living in the Horn of Africa into one of the world's largest humanitarian crises over the past year-and-a-half.
Along with the rainfall that has started to quench the parched earth there, Airmen from the 920th Rescue Wing here are on their way to the region as part of the Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa
to offer their rescue might for the next four months.
Family members gathered here Jan. 25 to bid them farewell, which they said is never easy, but Rescue Airmen have collectively expressed their patriotism and desire to help.
Once in place, approximately 60 Airmen will ramp up their two combat-search-and-rescue aircraft
and pour their energy and expertise into rescue and humanitarian relief efforts.
"The Horn is a busy place and our Airmen's presence is essential to creating and maintaining a stable, secure environment for the people of East Africa," said Col. Mark Blalock
, 920th Operations Group Commander.
They will join service members from each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, civilian employees and representatives of coalition and partner countries whose overall mission is to conduct operations to enhance partner nation capacity, promote regional security and stability, dissuade conflict, and protect US and coalition interests.
The CJTF-HOA areas of responsibility (AOR) include the countries of Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and Seychelles. The CJTF-HOA area of interest (AOI) includes Yemen, Tanzania, Mauritius, Madagascar, Mozambique, Burundi, Rwanda, Comoros, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda.
The 920th RQW CSAR aircraft, known as HC-130P/N King, is a tanker aircraft capable of refueling search-and-rescue helicopters and delivering supplies. It also serves as a jump platform for Pararescue Airmen
and is the only dedicated fixed-wing combat search and rescue platform in the Air Force inventory. It is piloted by a crew of 6-7 Airmen.
The deployment comes as one of many for Airmen of the 920th RQW. Currently, 70 Rescue Wing Airmen are deployed to Afghanistan providing life-saving medical evacuations of combatants wounded on the battlefield.
Air Force pararescue is the only military service specifically organized, trained and equipped to conduct personnel recovery operations in hostile or denied areas as a primary mission.
"It's (supporting the CJTF-HOA) something we've been a part of for a very long time, that we're very proud of," said Col. Robert Ament
, 920th Rescue Wing vice wing commander. "Right now we have two-thirds of our wing Airmen deployed overseas, and are expecting to be welcoming a portion of them home very soon," he said.
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