I had an eagle-eye view as the Falcon 9 rose up from its launchpad, with Dragon leading the way through the cloud covered sky. It’s sound punched through the wind, letting out a low intense rumble as it headed for orbit, getting louder and louder with each second that passed. As the rocket rose higher, its sound started to fade, until it completely disappeared. The Falcon 9 had performed its job – and it was time for Dragon to commence its part of the mission. Soon it would meet up with the ISS for the delivery of supplies and experiments to the crew.
The 920th Rescue Wing, based out of Patrick Air Force Base, serves as an Air Force Reserve Command combat-search-and-rescue unit. They are responsible for a variety of demanding missions and ready to deploy at a moments notice, trained to perform some of the most highly specialized operations in the Air Force. They’ve been the primary rescue force serving as “guardians of the astronauts” for 50 years, providing contingency response for a variety of emergencies that could potentially come up during a Space Shuttle launch or landing. These airmen and their elite team of Pararescuemen, known as PJ’s, are among the most highly trained emergency trauma specialists in the U.S. military, capable of performing life-saving missions anywhere in the world, at any time.