Deployed crash recovery team supports flying mission: Part one of a three part behind the scenes series

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Steven Wilson
  • 36th Operations Group Public Affairs
Our Air Force is comprised of highly technical experts that contribute to war time and peace time missions. But, there's a group of quiet professionals out there that are specifically trained to perform a sort of highly specialized rescue, of sorts. 

We're not exactly talking jaws of life stuff here. 

Meet Andersen's crash recovery team, deployed here for AEF 8, from Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. 

Crash recovery team chief, Tech. Sgt. Tim Sabelfeldt, said he and his crew of specialists have specific goals in mind when they're called on. 

"Our goal is to safely recover the aircraft without creating further damage and preserving the mishap site for the safety investigation board," he said. 

Think CSI for jets. And not just anyone can do it. 

Sergeant Sabelfeldt said in order to be a crash recovery team specialist, there's an initial class candidates go through at a local field training detachment. 

Crash recovery training must be repeated annually to keep certifications current but, according to Sergeant Sabelfeldt, sometimes he and his crews get training the old fashioned way. 

"Most of our training is gained through in-house and actual emergency response hands-on experience," he said. 

While anyone can certainly enjoy being part of a close-knit, specialized team like Sergeant Sabelfeldt's, another Airman had different reasons for enjoying where he works. 

Crash recovery team member Senior Airman Jeremy Phillips said this AEF was his first deployment and the tour was a great learning experience. 

"From beginning to end, I have been challenged by new and changing situations," he said. "With the help and guidance of my supervision, I was able to strive and overcome. Together we have shown what the meaning of 'teamwork' really is." 

This isn't a job where a team member can go to work and expect a routine day.
There's no such thing. 

"Even though every mishap is different, the preparation involved is pretty standard," Sergeant Sabelfeldt explained. "Environmental conditions would be the (only) variable." 

The focused and dedicated skills of the crash recovery team are not lost on the flying community. 

"The bottom line is these aircraft, like any machine, can break," said Col. Damian McCarthy, 36th Operations Group commander. "We need both highly trained crews to fly and fix these aircraft as well as the specialists that can assist us to safely recover an aircraft when major problems occur. 

"Those recovery efforts start with folks like Sergeant Sabelfeldt's crash recovery team. They're very important to what we do and I'm glad they're here with us." 

Support operations are vital to the flying mission in the Asia-Pacific region, thus ensuring the national security of the United States and allied nations. Forces in the area of responsibility are dedicated to keeping peace, stability and security in the entire region. 

Stay tuned for part two of the three part behind the scenes series.