6/13/2011 – NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFNS) — Airmen from the 66th Rescue Squadron here held a remembrance ceremony June 9 for the crewmembers of an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter, call sign Pedro 66, who lost their lives in a crash a year ago on this date.
Lt. Col. Daniel Jefferies, the 563rd Rescue Group deputy commander, presided over the memorial ceremony, the first time all five Pedro 66 Airmen killed in the crash have been honored in a ceremony together.
“These extraordinary Airmen have fulfilled the promise of the rescue community: these things we do, so others may live,” Colonel Jefferies said. “Their spirit will always be an inspiration.””
Master Sgt. Christopher Aguilera and Capt. Anthony Simone, the two survivors of the crash, were in attendance to pay tribute to their fallen comrades.
Friends and family gathered to remember the lives of Capt. David Wisniewski and 1st Lt. Joel Gentz, who were assigned to the 58th Rescue Squadron; Staff Sgt. David Smith who was assigned to the 66th RQS; Tech. Sgt Michael Flores and Senior Airman Benjamin White, who were assigned to the 48th RQS at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Maj. Robert Lindblom, the deployed director of operations during the incident, unveiled a memorial plaque to be displayed in the courtyard on the north side of the 66th RQS building.
While conducting a casualty evacuation operation in southeastern Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, four of the seven crewmembers were killed in the crash. Captain Wisniewski died from injuries sustained in the accident nearly a month later.
“The sacrifice of these brave Airmen has made a huge impact in the rescue community and their families,” said Col. Gary Henderson, the 23rd Wing commander. “It is a sad event, but it has made us closer as a rescue community and more dedicated to the job we do.”
Photo: Capt. Anthony Simone, his wife Andrea and Master Sgt. Christopher Aguilera read the plaque that was unveiled June 9, 2011, during a memorial ceremony at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., honoring crewmembers of Pedro 66. Captain Simone and Sergeant Aguilera were critically injured when their HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter, call sign Pedro 66, crashed in southwest Afghanistan June 9, 2010.Â The helicopter was on a rescue mission supporting Operation Enduring Freedom at the time of the crash. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Taylor Worley)
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