Image of the Air Force wings with the museum name underneath

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Global Peacetime Transition

Following the Korean and First Indochina Wars, the Air Rescue Service (ARS) switched from a wartime posture to a global search and rescue (SAR) service.

Maintaining their primary objective of saving lives and Air Crew Recovery (ACR), the first National SAR Plan of March 1956 added the responsibility of rescue within the United States.

In 1958, an ARS directive stated that “no special units or specially designed aircraft will be provided for the sole purpose of wartime search and rescue,” leaving the ARS woefully unprepared for future wartime needs.

Later that year, ARS began to support NASA and Air Force space and missile recovery programs, beginning with the Mercury Program. Additionally, in 1960, the Air Rescue Service assumed the Local Base Rescue (LBR) program involving rescue services in the vicinity of local air bases.

Air Force restructuring and budget cuts also reduced the ARS from 7,900 people to 1,600 and from fifty squadrons to just eleven.

Click here to return to Search and Rescue in Southeast Asia(SAR in SEA)

Click here to the Southeast Asia War Gallery