The Air Force on Tuesday held a memorial service to honor two Reserve pararescuemen who died in a helicopter crash in Iraq earlier this month.
Nearly 1,500 people attended the service for Master Sgt. William Posch and Staff Sgt. Carl Enis at Patrick Air Force Base, the 920th Rescue Wing said in a release.
Posch and Enis, who were assigned to the 308th Rescue Squadron, were killed along with five other airmen when their HH-60 Pave Hawk crashed in Anbar Province, Iraq, on March 15.
Posch, 36, joined the Air Force in 2000 and became a pararescueman three years later, the 920th said. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan during operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, and also responded to hurricanes Katrina and Harvey. During the response to Hurricane Harvey, Posch and the troops he served with saved 235 victims in Texas.
Posch also served as part of Joint Task Force NASA Space Shuttle, the team that was pre-positioned before space shuttle launches to conduct rescue operations in case of an emergency. He joined the 308th Rescue Squadron in 2008, and, in 2013, the Air Force named him one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.
Enis, 31, graduated from Florida State University in 2008 with a degree in environmental studies and enlisted in 2010, the 920th said. In 2012, he became a pararescueman and joined the 920th.
Enis deployed to support combat operations throughout the Horn of Africa and in Iraq, the release said. He was named Airman of the Year by the 920th and Pararescueman of the Year by Air Force Reserve Command in 2013.
During the memorial service, their fellow airmen shared stories about them and spoke of the example they set.
“If I were stranded on a battlefield somewhere injured, and I could pick the names of my rescuers, I would have chosen the crew of Jolly 51,” said Col. Kurt Matthews, commander of the 920th, referring to the crashed helicopter by its call sign. “They were that good. In fact, Bill and Carl were the best of the best. Our obligation is to honor their lives by keeping them in our hearts and minds and endeavoring each day to make them proud of us because we are so grateful and so proud of them.”
Battlefield cross memorials for all seven crew members — Posch, Enis, Capt. Mark Weber of the 38th Rescue Squadron at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia, and four members of the New York Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing, Capt. Andreas O’Keefe, Capt. Christopher Zanetis, Master Sgt. Christopher Raguso, and Staff Sgt. Dashan Briggs — consisting of helmets, boots, armor, rifles and photographs were saluted onstage by Lt. Col. Timothy Hanks, commander of the 308th, and Chief Master Sgt. Mike Ziegler, chief enlisted manager for the 308th.
“They were dedicated to their mission and gave nothing less but their very best, which is a true testament to their warrior ethos,” Ziegler said. “This country is much safer today because of them.”
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.