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40th HS, local forces rescue man

The 40th Helicopter Squadron rescues a man June 3, 2019, in Monarch, Montana.

The 40th Helicopter Squadron rescues a man June 3, 2019, in Monarch, Montana. The 40th HS received the request Monday night around 10 p.m. to assist the Cascade County Sheriff’s Department in rescuing the man after he fell from a steep cliff and was holding on to a tree root approximately 250 feet from the ground. The four-person aircrew coordinated with local ground crews to successfully rescue the man. (Courtesy photo)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- A U.S. Air Force helicopter crew rescued a man June 3 near Monarch, Montana, concluding ground and air search and rescue groups around 11 p.m.

The 40th Helicopter Squadron received the request Monday night around 10 p.m. to assist the Cascade County Sheriff’s Department in rescuing the man after he fell from a steep cliff and was holding on to a tree root approximately 250 feet from the ground.

A UH-1N Iroquois helicopter assigned to the squadron departed Malmstrom Air Force Base with four aircrew at approximately 10:20 p.m.

The aircrew included 40th HS pilots Maj. Jeffrey Miser and Capt. Kyle Lenz, and flight engineers Master Sgt. Joseph Cox and Tech. Sgt. Joshua Makepeace.

After approving the request for assistance, the crew departed Malmstrom and flew approximately 22 miles to Monarch where local ground crews were already on scene.

The aircrew began working logistics and passed information to the on-scene commander. The pilots then flew over and hovered approximately 100 feet above the man to begin extraction.

Makepeace operated the rescue hoist and lowered Cox down on a forest penetrator, rescue strap in hand, who then secured the man with the strap.

The crew then transitioned the aircraft down to the landing zone marked by ground teams while Cox and the man were lowered down via hoist. The man was passed down to the ground team and evaluated for injuries. He was not injured.

“As a long-time first responder’s wife and (mother of a first responder), and as a citizen who owes so much to those that sacrifice their lives daily for my family, I am truly grateful,” said the man’s mother-in-law. “Thank you so much to the incredible Malmstrom chopper crew that saved my son-in-law Monday night, and to all of our first responders on scene. I’m so happy to say he is doing well.”

The responding agencies included the 40th HS, Belt Rural Volunteer Fire Department, Belt Ambulance, the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office, Cascade County Search and Rescue, Mercy Flight and Great Falls Emergency Services.

“The mission last night resulted in a quick and successful rescue, made to look easy because of the exceptional helicopter crew and great partnership we have with our local civilian partners,” said Lt. Col. Bryan Tuinman, 40th HS commander.

This event marks the 428th save the squadron has made to date.

The 40th Helicopter Squadron ensures strategic security by providing flexible, rapid-response helicopter airlift support to the 341st Missile Wing. The 40th also performs aerial surveillance of Department of Defense strategic weapon convoys and short notice emergency security forces responses; supports emergency war order taskings, and priority personnel and logistical transportation.

The 40th Helicopter Squadron has a proud rescue history and currently conducts search and rescue missions in support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff National Search and Rescue plan.
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