56th Rescue Squadron

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56th Rescue Squadron

56th Rescue Squadron.jpg
56th Rescue Squadron Patch


14 November 1952 - 18 March 1960
8 July 1972 - 15 October 1975
1 May 1988 - Present


United States


United States Air Force


Search and Rescue

Part of

United States Air Forces in Europe
3d Air Force
48th Fighter Wing
48th Operations Group


RAF Lakenheath


Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svgPUC
Outstanding Unit ribbon.svgAFOUA
Vietnam gallantry cross unit award-3d.svgRVGC w/ Palm

The 56th Rescue Squadron (56 RQS) is part of the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, England. It operates HH-60 Pave Hawk aircraft conducting search and rescue missions.


The 56th flew search and rescue, and medical evacuation, in North Africa and southern Europe from, November 1952-March 1960. It flew combat missions in Southeast Asia from, 10 July 1972 - 15 August 1973, to include search and rescue, airborne mission control, and aerial refueling. The squadron continued to perform local search and rescue until February 1975.

It flew search and rescue support to the Iceland Defense Force from, May 1988-September 2006.[1]


·         Vietnam War

On 1 April 1972 the 39th ARRS was dissolved and the aircraft and crews temporarily became part of Detachment 4 of the 3d Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Group at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base. On 8 July 1972 the Detachment was redesignated the 56th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron.

On 12 April 1975 the squadron's HC-130Ps supported Operation Eagle Pull, the evacuation of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

On 15 October 1975 the squadron was deactivated at Korat RTAFB and its 4 remaining HC-130Ps joined the 40th ARRS.

In 2011 a detachment of helicopters from the 56th deployed on board the USS Ponce.


·         56th Air Rescue Squadron (1952–1962)

·         56th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron (1972–1975)

·         56th Air Rescue Squadron (1989–1993)

·         56th Rescue Squadron (1993–Present)

 Bases stationed:

·         Sidi Slimane, French Morocco (1952–1960)

·         Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand (1972–1975)

·         Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland (1988–2006)

·         RAF Lakenheath, England (2006–Present)

Aircraft Operated:

·         H-5 Dragonfly (1952–1953)

·         SA-16 Albatross (1952–1960)

·         SC-47 (1953–1956)

·         SH-19 Chickasaw (1953–1960)

·         HC-130 Hercules (1972–1975)

·         HH-43 Huskie (1972–1975)

·         HH-3 (1988–1992)

·         HH-60 Pave Hawk (1992–Present)