Team Hickam supports NASA’s Human Space Flight program

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr.
  • 15th Wing

Team Hickam provides ready forces to support a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and that reaches well beyond air, land, and sea. 

In preparation for the historic launch of NASA’s SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2, several units from Team Hickam assisted in the beddown and deployment of a liaison team from the 45th Operations Group, Detachment 3, stationed at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, and a U.S. Air Force Guardian Angel Pararescue team from the 58th Rescue Squadron, Nellis AFB, Nevada. 

The Guardian Angels, or PJs, are part of U.S. Space Command’s Human Space Flight Support Task Force 45. TF45 teams are pre-positioned in key locations, on alert and ready to deploy at a moment’s notice in support of search and rescue operations in the event they are needed.  

The 735th Air Mobility Squadron and the 647th Logistics Readiness Squadron worked side-by-side to securely manage loading cargo such as boats and emergency equipment onto a C-17 Globemaster III.

“We complement each other’s skillset very well,” said Tech. Sgt. Abel Moreno, 647th Logistics Readiness Squadron combat mobility flight operations section chief. “The support and flexibility from the 735th AMS allow us to move cargo in a timely fashion and reduce our time on the flightline.”  

On the scheduled launch day, other personnel from across Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam arrived to reevaluate and re-inspect cargo and packing procedures. 

“We work with the 647th LRS to ensure the cargo is safe and ready to be loaded onto the designated airframe,” said Tech. Sgt. Josh Moracco, 204th Airlift Squadron C-17 Globemaster III loadmaster joint airdrop inspector. “We inspect the cargo and parachutes to ensure they are properly configured. This allows us to make sure the deployment sequence is seamless so as the cargo leaves the aircraft it can deploy to the target area safely and properly.” 

Along with the ground support, Team Hickam also provides a significant role in the alert aircrew mission. In the event search and recovery of the capsule is needed, Hawaii Air National Guard’s 154th Wing aircrew will airdrop the PJ team in a timely response. Arriving to a point in the Pacific Ocean takes additional support to navigate the skies.  

The 15th Operations Support Squadron Weather Flight expanded its forecasting training from the Hawaiian air defense identification zone to stretch the entire Indo-Pacific area of responsibility, which covers approximately 113 million-square miles. 

“If our aircrews are tasked to provide recovery efforts, then we’re responsible for briefing them the weather forecast from JBPHH to the location and back,” said Master Sgt. Matthew Semder, 15th OSS Weather Flight chief.   

Capt. Josh McGee, Combat Rescue Officer and Guardian Angel team commander, emphasized the importance of Team Hickam and the professionalism of the Airmen on this mission. 

“Although, we’ve planned and trained for this, we can’t get to the capsule by ourselves,” said McGee. “JBPHH is a strategic location and helps to cut down the response time to get to the capsule if we need to. The Airmen that are part of this mission are professionals and good at what they do.” 

The last time the U.S. launched a human-crewed space mission from U.S. soil was in 2011. 

For Staff Sgt. Waite Rowland, 647th Logistics Readiness Squadron combat mobility flight supervisor, the event is significant because nine years ago he was still in high school. 

“This mission embodied the wingman concept and showed our younger Airmen what teamwork looks like in action,” said Rowland. “I’m honored to be selected to be part of this historic mission. Being part of this mission showed me that I’m part of something bigger than myself, something that’s going to help a lot of people.”