When seven airmen died in a fiery helicopter crash in Iraq on March 15, the commander of the men in an accompanying helicopter knew he had to get them home as soon as possible.
Lt. Col. Tim Hanks, who heads the 308th Rescue Squadron at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida, pushed and pushed until he received authority to pull the airmen out of the combat zone.
They were out of Iraq and back at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida within 72 hours.
The airmen in the second HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter had tried to land for 40 minutes, as their friends were trapped in the burning wreckage below, and Hanks was worried about how that trauma would affect some of the Air Force’s most elite airmen.
The Tampa Bay Times spent time with the returning airmen and the trauma expert called in to help them. The paper describes in detail how the surviving airmen coped with the trauma. Read the story here.
Posch and Enis were both pararescuemen.
The other men who died were:
- Capt. Mark Weber, 29, a combat rescue officer assigned to the 38th Rescue Squadron.
- Capt. Andreas O’Keeffe, 37, of the New York National Guard’s 101st Rescue Squadron.
- Capt. Christopher Zanetis, 37, also of the Guard’s 101st Rescue Squadron.
- Master Sgt. Christopher Raguso, 39, of the Guard’s 101st Rescue Squadron.
- Staff Sgt. Dashan Briggs, 30, of the Guard’s 101st Rescue Squadron.
Amid the latest spike in aviation deaths, a newly published Military Times Crash Database shows manned warplane accidents have jumped 39 percent since the 2013 budget cuts.