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New combat rescue group stands up in Arizona

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- The 943rd Rescue Group here will hold activation and command change ceremonies here March 5.

The Air Force officially activated the rescue group Feb. 12 “to allow for better management efficiency of Air Force resources,” said Air Force Reserve Command officials. They said the Air Force will continue to look for better ways to organize units and use new technologies.

The group belongs to the 920th Rescue Wing at Patrick AFB, Fla., and Air Force Special Operations Command is the gaining major command.

Col. Michael Shook commands the group. He was the commander of the group’s 305th Rescue Squadron, which flies HH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.

Also in the group is the newly formed 306th RQS, which is made up of pararescue specialists who are commonly known as PJs. Other units at Davis-Monthan are the 943rd Maintenance Squadron, 943rd Mission Support Flight, 943rd Operations Support Flight and 943rd Aeromedical Flight.

Another squadron of PJs is in Portland, Ore. The 304th RQS previously reported to the 920th RQW at Patrick.

“As the 305th Rescue Squadron grows to become part of the 943rd Rescue Group, our Citizen Airmen will continue to provide the capability of performing day and night combat rescues in hostile territories,” Colonel Shook said. “When available, our combat rescue organization will offer the same local rescue support the citizens of Arizona have relied on for more than 20 years -- first as the 71st Special Operations Squadron and then as the 305th Rescue Squadron.”

The 943rd Rescue Group traces its roots to the 943rd Tactical Airlift Group, which inactivated in June 1993 at March AFB, Calif. In 1963 the group was a troop carrier group.