AF Reservists join effort to rescue missing men

  • Published
  • By Maj. Cathleen Snow
  • 920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs
Air Force reservists joined forces with local volunteer search and rescue organizations to rescue two men who went missing Oct. 25.

The call for help came Oct. 26 from the Clackamas County Sherriff's office requesting assistance to help locate two men who were overdue by 6 hours after they went wild mushroom hunting in a remote wilderness area 19 miles east Estacada, 45 miles east of Portland.

Mushroom hunting is a popular activity in the northwestern United States. Hunters gather highly valued edible mushrooms to sell to food establishments. 

The hunters were last seen at approximately 1 p.m. Sunday by a fellow hunter after the men were separated while attempting to depart the area because of significant weather moving into the area. 

The hunter that made it out reported the other two as overdue saying the missing men had no overnight equipment or cold weather gear and temperatures dipped to just above freezing with rain. As a result, the CCSO requested assistance from local search and rescue organizations to include the U.S. Air Force Reserve's 304th Rescue Squadron. 

The 304th Rescue Squadron deployed a 10-person Guardian Angel search and rescue team by ground which linked up with local volunteer search and rescue organizations to locate the missing men. 

Pacific Northwest volunteers made positive contact with the missing hunters around 11 a.m. Monday and relayed their condition and coordinates to the 304th Airmen.

The hunters were extremely hypothermic and required immediate medical treatment. The 304th RQS along with Washing County Sherriff's Explorer post 877 and immediately responded to their location and provided medical treatment.

After medical treatment, the hunters, with some assistance, were able to walk out with the rescue teams and were reunited with their family and friends around 4:30 p.m.

Guardian Angel Airmen have advanced mountain rescue and medical capabilities. They are experts at navigating rough and steep-angle terrain, according to Maj. Chris Bernard, 304th Rescue Squadron spokesperson.

"When you are looking for someone in remote mountainous areas, you don't know where they are going to end up. They could have fallen off a cliff into ravine and those situations can be very difficult," said Bernard.

The Guardian Angels are highly trained rescue specialists consisting of pararescuemen, combat rescue officers and search, evasion resistance escape (SERE) professionals whose scope and ability goes beyond U.S. borders to the most remote and challenging of combat environments, such as Afghanistan, to conduct combat search and rescues for U.S. and allied forces.

The 304th RQS is based at the Portland International airport and is a geographically separated unit of the 920th Rescue Wing, Patrick Air Force, Fla. They are the only members of the military trained to conduct full-spectrum personnel recovery.  They can do everything from parachute from planes to find downed fighter pilots on cliffs where helicopters cannot land, to providing advanced trauma care to those wounded in combat.


Editor's note: Maj. Chris Bernard is the public affairs representative for the 304th Rescue Squadron and provided information for this article.