33rd RQS, HMU bring the thunder

33rd RQS, HMU bring the thunder

by Air Force Airman 1st Class Lynette M. Rolen
Kadena Air Base

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan --  The 718th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron conducted training for Exercise Pacific Thunder here June 20.

Pacific Thunder is an annual exercise that demonstrates readiness for combat search and rescue contingencies.

The 33rd Helicopter Maintenance Unit and 33rd Rescue Squadron combined their efforts for this training, making these contingencies possible.

“Every aircrew member, whether they are U.S. military or an ally, can rest assured that if something happens to their aircraft, we will do everything in our power to come get them,” said Major Andrew Fink, 33rd RQS pilot. “This allows Pacific Command aircrew to execute their diverse missions with the knowledge they have a force standing by to get them no matter what. It’s that kind of assurance that allows pacific forces to execute without a second thought to how they will get home if something goes wrong.”

Every day is a training day as these two units prepare to execute PACOM missions. The 33rd HMU prepares the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter for the 33rd RQS to be able to rescue those in need no matter where they are.

“There’s a bigger drive, a bigger ops tempo that they want,” said Staff Sgt. Stephen Moss, 33rd HMU crew chief. “We basically try to get our Airmen into that ops tempo, where if we’re deployed, they won’t skip a beat; they can go, get in the bird and get it ready.”

According to Moss, working at an increased operations tempo ensures the maintainers are top performers wherever they are assigned.

“We have to train our mechanics to facilitate the mission for wherever we’re going,” said Moss. “Because the focus out here is on water operations, we have to repair any damages to the aircraft that it is subject to whenever they are out there. This ensures peak performance of the HH-60G Pave Hawk and its maintainers. I’m a big fan of the saying, ‘practice how you play.’ ”

Teamwork is an important aspect of this training. The 33rd HMU performs maintenance that is critical to the 33rd RQS carrying out their rescue missions.

“The 33rd’s goal is to execute our rescue mission as professionals every day across the globe,” said Fink. “We are poised to deploy always. Our daily operations and training revolve around the reality that we could be tasked at any time to operate somewhere in the pacific to support PACOM objectives.”

Everything the 33rd HMU and RQS do is geared toward saving lives.

“That is what we do every day,” said Fink. “Simultaneously we provide search and rescue coverage here in Japan. We are the insurance policy everyone wants to have. When the call comes, we go.”

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