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Four Sandys, Two Pedros, and a Crown

The formation of a SAR Task Force (SARTF) became the basic rescue element for recovering downed aircrew in Southeast Asia.

A standard SARTF package included four A-1 Skyraiders, two rescue helicopters, and an HC-130P Combat King.

When a rescue mission occurred, four A-1 Skyraiders, using the call sign Sandy, launched. Two A-1s flew directly to the search area to locate and protect the downed aircrew, while the other two A-1s met the rescue helicopters to escort them to the recovery site.

The two rescue helicopters, either HH-43s, HH-3s, or HH-53s, using the call sign Pedro, and later in the war Jolly Green, established a “low” and “high” position at the recovery site. Once the A-1s cleared the area of enemy threat, the low helicopter would go in and rescue the survivors. The high helicopter hovered nearby as additional help.

An HC-130P Combat King, call sign Crown, served as the airborne mission commander and as the refueling tanker for the HH-3E and HH-53B/C helicopters. With advanced communication equipment, the HC-130P coordinated all rescue efforts from the air and could call upon a vast array of support aircraft such as forward air controllers, reconnaissance aircraft, and fighters to support the rescue operations.

Following a rescue, the A-1s escorted the helicopters back to base to ensure the safety of the crew and aircraft.

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