HomeNewsArticle Display

Minot rescue crew saves man trapped from flood

Members of the 54th Helicopter Squadron at Minot Air Force Base responded to a search and rescue call involving a man trapped in his cabin, surrounded by rising flood water, in Savage, Montana.

Team Minot aircrew search-and-rescue team members stand in front of a UH-1N Iroquois at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., April 5, 2018. Members of the 54th Helicopter Squadron at Minot Air Force Base responded to a search and rescue call involving a man trapped in his cabin, surrounded by rising flood water, in Savage, Montana. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan McElderry)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --

Members of the 54th Helicopter Squadron at Minot Air Force Base responded to a search and rescue call involving a man trapped in his cabin, surrounded by rising flood water in Savage, Montana, March 24, 2018.

At approximately 2 p.m. the crew received a phone call requesting a hoist-equipped aircraft to respond to the scene.

“We quickly came together and thoroughly discussed our objective, fuel considerations, timing, coordinates and communication,” said Capt. Vicente Vasquez, 54th HS UH-1N Iroquois pilot. “By the time we got in the aircraft, there was no doubt in my mind that we were going to get this guy out safely.”

Vasquez, the aircraft commander during the flight, said upon their arrival they saw the individual stranded in the center of the flood waters, standing on the deck of his cabin as the water steadily rose.

“Thanks to our accurate coordinates, we found the guy really quickly,” said Vasquez. “We analyzed the winds and realized we wouldn’t be able to land next to his house and walk him to the helicopter so we needed to hoist him up instead. We then established our hoist and lowered the doctor onto the house’s deck from about a 120-foot hover.”

After being lowered onto the deck, Maj. Jared Brinkerhoff, 23rd Bomb Squadron flight surgeon, immediately assessed the situation.

“When I got to the individual I quickly evaluated him to ensure he was in good condition,” Brinkerhoff said. “My main focus was to confirm he was alright and get him onto the hoist as efficiently and safely as possible.”

Brinkerhoff, who trains with the crew at least once a month for search and rescue missions, said his familiarity with how things work during exercises reassured him that things would go well during this particular mission.

“There’s a lot of planning and communication we do during training because safety is our top priority,” Brinkerhoff said. “When it comes to real-world situations we want to have that muscle-memory of ensuring everyone knows what to do and are aware of each other’s responsibilities.”

Likewise, Vasquez mentioned the crew’s prior training and mission readiness is what guaranteed the success of their search and rescue.

“We constantly train for live hoists, search scenarios and evaluating conditions at locations we’re unfamiliar with,” Vasquez said. “We train countless hours for searches before we even get to our operational units, so we’re all familiar with the concepts of search and rescue, which really helps us out there.”

The team transported the survivor to a nearby hospital where emergency responders and the individual’s family were waiting.

“The most rewarding moment was being able to see the man’s wife picking him up at the airport after we dropped him off,” Vasquez said. “We could see on her face that she was so grateful that he was alright.”

Vasquez added that the entire operation went well due to the combined effort from several men and women across Minot AFB.

“It was awesome to go out there and execute, but we had a lot of support around us that helped make it all a success,” Vasquez said. “There were several Airmen and contractors involved with a lot of the mission planning, maintenance, fuels and aircrew flight equipment. We wouldn’t have been able to do this without them.”
USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.