320th Special Tactics Sqn Airmen execute amphibious training. It's part of the 33rd sqn which together with 31st sqn ensures 'that others may live'.

HH-60G Pave Hawk from the 33rd Rescue Squadron

An HH-60G Pave Hawk from the 33rd Rescue Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Japan, performs a rope-ladder recovery with Airmen from the 320th Special Tactics Squadron during an amphibious operations exercise off the west coast of Okinawa, Japan. Special tactics team Airmen are organized, trained, and equipped to conduct special operations core tasks during high-risk combat operations.

Whether an emergency at sea or an ambush on the ground at a deployed location calls for the retrieval of military members from a deadly situation, members of the 31st and 33rd Rescue Squadrons are ready to complete the mission at any time.

Though they are ultimately both responsible for saving lives and following their mutual motto, "These things we do that others may live," they are separate squadrons with individual missions and career fields.

The 31st RQS trains, equips and employs combat-ready rescue specialists.

It is made of combat rescue officers, pararescue, or PJ, specialists, and survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists who work together to facilitate the return of isolated personnel back to friendly forces. The squadron also has support sections such as aircrew flight equipment, an armory, admin Airmen and more.

First the 31st Special Operations Squadron, the 31st SOS was constituted as the 31st Air Rescue Squadron on Oct. 17, 1952. The squadron made combat rescues in Southeast Asia from 1965 to 1966 and also operated the Joint Rescue Coordination Center for 13th Air Force from April 1967 to July 1975. They took part in disaster relief missions in the Philippines July 16 to 31, 1990, and in May 1993 the squadron was redesignated the 31st RQS under the 18th Wing.

The 33rd RQS operates HH-60 Pave Hawk aircraft to conduct search and rescue missions.

It is made of gunners, flight engineers and pilots who make up the fundamental aircrew to perform a mission.

The 33rd RQS has performed search, rescue and recovery missions since 1952. The squadron flew missions in support of the Vietnam War from 1965 to 1967; supported operations following the seizure of the U.S.S. Pueblo by North Korea from Jan. 29 to Sept. 16, 1968; and aided search efforts and salvage operations from September to October 1983, after a Soviet fighter aircraft shot down a South Korean airliner.

To put the difference between the squadrons simply, the 33rd RQS provides the HH-60 Pave Hawk and flight crew for many units' rescue missions, while the 31st RQS provides the rescue Airmen who can prosecute rescue missions from different types of aircraft.

While the squadrons are separate, as they are both stationed on Kadena and are both responsible for personnel rescue, they often work together on local missions and training. For example, they perform night time training and alert to keep their Airmen sharp in their skills and ready for any situation at any time of day. 

Whether working together or separately, here or abroad, the Airmen of the 31st and 33rd work hard every day to save lives.

Source: USAF 18th Wing Public Affairs
Photo credits: USAF

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