HSC-25 provides help from above
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- The U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 provides life-saving capabilities from the sky for search and recovery missions for military members and civilians in danger on Guam as well as the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands.
HSC-25 members have rescued 27 people and provided 39 medical evacuations since 2013.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Tommy Sheehy, HSC-25 aircrew trainer, gets a feeling of accomplishment every time his crew returns from a successful mission.
"Every time we go on a SAR mission, it's a rush," Sheehy said. "Everyone gets nervous, but your training kicks in and we do what we have to do to get the job done."
Lt. Cmdr. Chandra Newman, HSC-25 operations officer, added that some HSC-25 rescues can easily be avoided if people were more knowledgeable about hiking and the way rip tides work. Every time someone goes hiking or swimming he or she should go with someone who is educated and familiar with the area.
"It can be human error or mother nature turning on them that day," Sheehy said. "We don't make the decision on who's to blame, we just try to complete the mission and provide help to anyone that needs it."
When trouble arises, the U.S. Coast Guard SAR mission coordinator evaluates each call and looks at the available resources. If the situation occurs over land and the manning is available, then Guam Fire and Rescue will respond. If not, HSC-25 will respond to the call.
"We man the alert phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Newman said. "We are still trained to do our combat mission set and we maintain that SAR posture for a resource that doesn't exist on this island."
When new members from the squadron arrive on island, they must go through a series of training before they can partake in a search and rescue mission.
"We have a fundamental tactic syllabus that every pilot and aircrew has to progress through to deploy," Newman said. "Part of the syllabus plays well into the search and recovery mission, so we don't qualify our pilots to stand the search and rescue alert phone until they have completed the syllabus and have some of their fundamental skill sets developed in order to handle the over land and water personnel recovery."
The unit's main focus is providing helicopter support to the larger U.S. Navy mission.
"The SAR mission means a lot to us," Sheehy said. "Whenever you can go out and save a life or help someone in distress, it's very rewarding." It is not our primary mission, but we are more than willing to help anyone in need."