1-Oct-2021 Source: US Air Force
The 41st Rescue Squadron officially retired its HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter, tail number 356, after conducting its final sortie at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, Sept. 29, 2021.
During a ceremony celebrating nearly 30 years of service, tail No. 356 departed on a flight marking the end of an era for the “Golf” model aircraft as Moody’s rescue community makes its transition to the HH-60W Jolly Green II.
“356 is a veteran of Iraq, Afghanistan, counterterrorism operations in the Horn of Africa, and countless search and rescue operations in the United States and around the world,” said Col. Russ Cook, 23rd Wing commander and previous 347th Rescue Group commander. “I can’t tell you how many people 356 has rescued. I can only tell you this; she brought everyone home. Americans, allies, partners — even our nation’s enemies at times. But most importantly, she brought our rescue crews home, every time.”
Originally delivered to the 41st RQS by retired Lt. Col. Steven Colby on Sept. 16, 1994, tail-356 served as a beacon of hope in the 41st RQS community.
To shine a light on tail No. 356’s legacy with the 41st RQS, Colby piloted the helicopter on its last flight alongside his son, Maj. Justin Colby, 41st RQS HH-60 pilot.
“Having been around the mission for so long, this is my 41st year associated with Air Force rescue,” S. Colby said. “To see the evolutionary development in the community is just astounding. To see where young co-pilots and junior aircraft managers are today compared to where we were 30 years ago … it’s a testament to the way the Air Force believes in the importance of Combat Search and Rescue.”
According to maintenance records, 356 logged more than 8,000 flight hours and received the 2012 Mackay Trophy for its contribution in the Pedro 83 flight, where tail No. 356 and a formation of other HH-60G Pave Hawk’s launched in response to an urgent medical evacuation near Mazar-e-sharif, Afghanistan.
“It’s an extreme honor to be able fly the last (Golf) here at Moody,” J. Colby said. “It’s kind of the turning of the tide and new era for combat rescue as we move into the HH-60 Whiskey. To be a representative for the new era is pretty awesome, and the fact that I get to usher in that era by flying with my dad is so cool.”
As the high-time flyer, or pilot with the most flying hours at Moody AFB on the HH-60G, Lt. Col. Thaddeus Ronnau shared the true reason for the accomplishments of the Golf model aircraft.
“The HH-60G was a great and survivable aircraft, but it was made the best rescue vehicle in the world by the rescue forces being employed with her—the crews that manned her and the maintenance that kept her flying,” Ronnau said. “But time, technology, and our adversaries’ capabilities are catching up to us, so we need to improve and mature ourselves. This rescue force of HC-130Js, HH-60Ws, and our Guardian Angel force will always be ready to ensure that someone’s worst day won’t be their last.”
The HH-60G Pave Hawk Helicopter tail No. 356 is the last aircraft of its kind to depart Moody AFB with a lasting legacy; never to be forgotten.
“Today we send aircraft 356 on to her next mission, to retire in the George W. Bush Airpark here at Moody,” Cook said, “as a monument to the aircrew and maintainers who poured their heart and soul into the mission of combat rescue … I am thankful that 356 will continue her mission, inspiring the generation of Americans who will dedicate their lives to the motto of combat rescue — these things we do — that others may live.”