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The Men, The Mission: Rescue Units of the War

US Air Force rescue units in Southeast Asia belonged to the 3rd Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Group (ARRG). Comprised of five Aerospace Rescue and Recovery (ARR) squadrons, with occasional augmentation from other rescue units in the Pacific, they were responsible for all US search and recovery operations in SEA. 

The 3rd ARRG also commanded the Joint Rescue and Recovery Center in Saigon with operation locations at Son Tra, South Vietnam, and Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, to control individual missions.

Besides using HH-43, HH-3, and HH-53 helicopters to recover downed or isolated personnel, the ARRG flew the Douglas SC-54 Rescuemaster and the Grumman HU-16 Albatross. Both of these aircraft served as command and control vehicles during rescue missions, with the Albatross also being used for early amphibious operations. Later, the Lockheed HC-130P Combat King became the main platform for command and control and aerial refueling.

Depending on the mission, rescue aircraft consisted of a combination of pilots, navigators, flight engineers, loadmasters, and pararescumen drawn from the worldwide assets of the ARS/ARRS. Combat cameramen regularly joined aircrews to record rescue events.   

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