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NEWS | Jan. 29, 2024

68th Airlift Squadron airlift helicopters to retire, usher in next generation

433rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 68th Airlift Squadron aircrew had the honor of loading two HH-60G Pave Hawks from the 920th Rescue Wing, onto a C-5M Super Galaxy at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, on Jan. 19.

The two HH-60G Pave Hawks were airlifted to the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, to be retired as the 920th Rescue Wing transitions to the HH-60W model.

The aircrew consisted of loadmasters, flight engineers, pilots and support staff who completed vital mission-critical training.

“The pilots completed take-off and landing requirements and proficiency,” said Senior Master Sgt. Steven Martinez, 433rd Airlift Wing chief standards and evaluations flight engineer. “One flight engineer completed a mission re-qualification evaluation, one student flight engineer completed “Flight Engineer Scanner Certification,” and two loadmasters had no-notice evaluations successfully completed.” 

Senior Airman Ali Gundogdu, 433rd Airlift Wing loadmaster, completed his first mission loading helicopters onto a C-5M Super Galaxy.

“This was my first time loading up helicopters,” Gundogdu said. “To be honest, at first it was nerve-wracking, but going over the loading instructions, going over the plans beforehand, and getting to know what I was getting myself into I felt more prepared. As new crews come to the squadron it’s good to get missions like this, we don’t see them often, and it helps build our proficiency.” 

The retired HH-60G Pave Hawks dutifully completed combat search and rescue missions saving many lives. The HH-60G Pave Hawk with the tail number, 6236, entered service in 1990, saved a downed pilot in Iraq in 2003, deployed with a team to Afghanistan saving approximately 600 lives, and most recently deployed for six months as the primary combat search and rescue aircraft at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia in 2023. The HH-60G Pave Hawk with the tail number, 6115, entered service in 1988 and arrived at the 920th Rescue Wing in 2019 after serving in the Alaska National Guard.

The HH-60G Pave Hawks were flown to the 309th AMARG by Major Gary Koivisto, 433rd Operations Support Squadron instructor aircraft commander.

“This younger-than-average crew performed exceptionally, overcame multiple obstacles, and completed the mission on time,” Koivisto said. “This mission facilitated three check rides as well as vital upload training and proficiency sorties across the loadmaster, flight engineer, and pilot sections. Considering the short mission duration and number of accomplishments, it was one of the most efficient missions I've had the pleasure of flying.”