The 33rd Rescue Squadron [33rd RQS] was originally constituted as the 33rd Air Rescue Squadron on 17 October 1952. Activated on 14 November 1952 at Kadena AB, Okinawa, it was assigned to the 2nd Air Rescue Group (though attached to Twentieth Air Force, 14 November 1952-1 March 1955; 3d Air Rescue Group, 1 March-19 September 1955), flying the SA-16, SH-19 and the SC-47.
Relocating to Naha AB, Okinawa, 14 Apr 1955, it was reassigned to the 3rd Air Rescue Group, on 20 September 1955, to the 2nd Air Rescue Group, on 18 June 1957; Air Rescue Service, 24 Jun 1958-18 Mar 1960 (attached to Pacific Air Forces, 24 Jun 1958-17 Mar 1959; Detachment 2, Air Rescue Service [Pacific Recovery Operations Center], 18 Mar 1959-18 Mar 1960). The squadron was discontinued on 18 March 1960.
Organized on 18 June 1961 at Naha AB, Okinawa, it was assigned to Air Rescue (later, Aerospace Rescue and Recovery) Service, (though attached to Detachment 1, Air Rescue Service [Pacific Recovery Operations Center], 18 June-8 October 1961; Pacific Air Rescue Center [later, Pacific Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Center], 8 October 1961-31 March 1967). It was redesignated as the 33rd Air Recovery Squadron on 1 July 1965 and as the 33rd Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron on 8 January 1966. It was reassigned to the Pacific Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Center (later, 41st Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Wing), on 1 April 1967. The squadron inactivated on 1 October 1970. Aircraft operated by the squadron during that time had included the SA-16 (later, HU-16) 1961-1968; SH-19 (later, HH-19), 1961-1964; HH-43, 1964-1966; C-54, 1966; HH-3, 1968-1970; and the HC-97, 1968-1969.
The 33rd reactivated on 1 July 1971 at Kadena AB, Okinawa, and was assigned to the 41st Aerospace Rescue and Recovery (later, 41st Rescue and Weather Reconnaissance) Wing, operating the HH-43, 1971-1972; and HH-3, 1971-1975, 1982-. From 1972 to 1989, the unit also operated the HC-130, and from 1975-1985, the HH-53. The CH-3 began to be used by the unit starting in 1982.
Redesignated as the 33rd Air Rescue Squadron on 1 June 1989, it was reassigned to the Air Rescue Service on 1 August 1989.
Upon its reassignment to the 18th Wing’s Operations Group on 1 February 1993, it was redesignated as the 33d Rescue Squadron.
The unit was tasked with conducting Search, rescue and recovery operations from 1952-1960, 1961-1970, 1971-, including Vietnam, 1965-1967; following the seizure of the USS Pueblo by North Korea, 29 January-16 September 1968; and search efforts and salvage operations, September-October 1983, after a Soviet fighter aircraft shot down South Korean airliner KAL 007.
33rd Rescue Squadron earns MacKay Trophy
By Brian Kalish – Staff writer
Posted : Saturday May 29, 2010 9:37:16 EDT
The 33rd Rescue Squadron has been named the 2009 MacKay Trophy winner for saving the crew of a downed Air Force aircraft and three soldiers in Afghanistan.
The crew of “Pedro 16” and “Pedro 15” came under enemy fire July 29, 2009 during a medical evacuation mission as part of the 129th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron at Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan. Three Soldiers had been wounded near Forward Operating Base Frontenac when their convoy was hit with an IED. During the recovery operation, the crew of “Pedro 15” was downed and the “Pedro 16” crew, along with Army OH-58 Kiowa crews, helped return the wounded Soldiers and downed aircrew back to safety.
The rescue squadron, based at Kadena Air Base, Japan, was also awarded the 2009 Verne Orr Award and was recognized by the Jolly Green Association for most outstanding rescue mission of the year.
The crew of Pedro 16 poses in July 2009, at Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan. Pictured are Capt. Robert Rosebrough (middle, standing), 1st Lt. Lucas Will (right, standing), Master Sgt. Dustin Thomas (far left, standing) and Staff Sgt. Tim Philpott (right, kneeling). The airmen from the 33rd Rescue Squadron, based at Kadena Air Base, Japan, were recently announced as the 2009 MacKay Trophy winners