HALOs of the sun

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Lynette M. Rolen
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs
When the cargo doors open, the swoosh of wind is all that’s heard in the cabin of the MC-130J Commando II as pararescuemen from two nations await their turn to parachute into the clear waters below.

These combat specialists have one goal in mind…saving lives.

Pararescuemen from the 31st Rescue Squadron and Japan Air Self-Defense Force participated in a mass casualty exercise as part of Exercise Keen Sword 17, Nov. 10, 2016, off the coast of Okinawa.

During the exercise, JASDF and U.S. forces worked together responding to a downed aircraft scenario with personnel in the water.

“Exercises like this build the relationship between Japan and the U.S.,” said Capt. William Friedl, 31st RQS logistics flight commander. “They also develop a plan to work together in the future. It makes us more effective together as a team and builds trust as well as proficiency for everybody.”

Teams jumped from an altitude of nearly 4,000 feet. Friedl said exercises like this prepare the U.S.-Japan combat rescue team members for future operations together and strengthen operational readiness.

“This training was great to rehearse together because it shows how smoothly bilateral operations can go,” said Master Sgt. Maurice Muro, 31st RQS operations superintendent. “We had a lot of players involved with the preparation of this exercise to include U.S. Air Force members from the 31st RQS, 18th WG and 353rd SOG. Additionally, we had JASDF members from Naha and mainland Japan, as well as different reserve units support the exercise planning and execution.”

Friedl commented everything went according to plan. All of the players in this exercise came together and accomplished the mission.

“This is one of the biggest exercises we have during the year,” said Muro. “The mission was a success and we got the people safely out of the water.”