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103rd Rescue Squadron Returns from Deployment

  • Published
  • By Glyn Weir, Capt, USAF
  • 103rd Rescue Squadron
FS GABRESKI ANG, NY - The 103rd Rescue Squadron recently returned from their deployment where they were assigned to the 46th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron (ERQS) Detachment 1, 451st Expeditionary Operations Group from October 2012 to February 2013 located in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Their mission was combat search and rescue as well as casualty evacuation. During their deployment, the 103rd conducted 40 combat missions to save American Forces, International Security Forces and Afghan civilians wounded in battle by routinely operating in austere and contested areas in southern Afghanistan; frequently under direct enemy fire. During the deployment, the 103rd saved a total of 33 lives and assisted in saving nine more. The 103rd continued an established tradition of awarding custom made poker chips to individuals they had rescued. The poker chips quickly became a coveted item due to the ability of Air Force Rescue to evacuate the wounded even in the most difficult conditions. As word about Air Force Rescue spread, special requests grew and poker chips gained value. Individuals who were rescued began asking "where is my poker chip?" because to them, the chip had more value than any chip they would find in Las Vegas. After an 11 year presence in the Kandahar area of Southern Afghanistan which totaled over 97,000 hours on alert and 1,800 wounded evacuated from the battle field; the 103rd had the distinct honor to be the last element of Air Force Rescue in Kandahar.