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512th Rescue Squadron
512 RQS.jpg
512th Rescue Squadron Patch
Active 31 October 1942 – 26 March 1946
23 May 1947 – 20 September 1948
13 February 1949 – 20 February 1951
1 June 1951 – 15 March 1965
1 April 1994 – present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Search and Rescue
Part of Air Force Reserve Command
19th Air Force
58th Special Operations Wing
58th Operations Group
Garrison/HQ Kirtland Air Force Base
Engagements World War II
Korean war
Operation Tidal Wave
Decorations Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg DUC
Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA

Emblem of the 512th Bombardment Squadron

Consolidated B-24J-30-CO Liberator 42-73278, parked at Enfidaville Airfield, Tunisia, October 1943.

The 512th Rescue Squadron (512 RQS) is part of the 58th Special Operations Wing based at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. It operates UH-1N Twin Huey and HH-60G Pave Hawk aircraft conducting search and rescue missions.


Provide Mission-Ready H-1 and H-60 Crewmembers to Helicopter Units Worldwide


World War II

Established in the Middle East during late 1942 to aid British Forces during the Western Desert Campaign. Initially equipped with obsolete B-17C/D Flying Fortresses transferred from Tenth Air Force. Replaced with B-24 Liberators flown from Florida via South America; over to then across Central Africa then north to Egypt in early 1943. Became part of United States Middle East Air Forces (USMEAF), later Ninth Air Force.

Operating from bases in British Palestine, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, attacked shipping in the Mediterranean and harbor installations in Libya, Tunisia, Sicily, and Italy to cut enemy supply lines to North Africa. Struck airdromes, marshalling yards, and other objectives in Sicily and Italy after the fall of Tunisia in May 1943. Reassigned to Fifteenth Air Force in late 1943, and moved to southern Italy. Squadron flew long range strategic bombardment missions to targets in Italy, France, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, and the Balkans to bomb factories, marshalling yards, oil refineries, oil storage facilities, airdromes, bridges, harbors, and other objectives.

After the German Capitulation in May 1945, returned to the United States; was re-equipped with B-29 Superfortress bombers and trained under Second Air Force for deployment to the Pacific Theater. However with the Japanese Capitulation in August, the training ended and most personnel demobilized by the end of October. Remained in active status but not fully manned or equipped, and subsequently inactivated in early 1946 due to budget restrictions. The squadron was not fully manned or equipped between 10 November 1945 and 26 March 1946 and was unmanned from, 23 May 1947 – 20 September 1948.[1][2]

Korean War

Based in Japan at the beginning of the Korean War, the 512 RS, flying RB/WB-29s, performed daily strategic weather reconnaissance missions over the combat zone, conducted shipping surveillance and visual reconnaissance, and accomplished electronic countermeasures reconnaissance until 20 February 1951. In the early days of the conflict, the squadron also dropped leaflets. Initially unarmed, and later only lightly armed with two .50-caliber machine guns in the tail turret, the WB-29s flew daily missions over enemy-held territory. During 27 June through 27 December 1950, the squadron flew over 200 combat missions, making over 5,000 vitally needed weather observations. These missions were exceptionally hazardous because of extremely varying weather conditions and exposure to attack over enemy territory. One of the squadron's WB-29s served as an aerial command post and weather station, giving on-the-spot weather data and directions to incoming bombers on the first B-29 strike (13 July 1950) against North Korean installations. On this and several later such missions, the WB-29 carried Major General Emmett O'Donnell, Jr., USAF, Commander, FEAF Bomber Command. The 512 RS was replaced by the 56th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron in February 1951.

Cold War

Reactivated in May 1951. Practiced electronic countermeasures with B-29 aircraft from c. 1952 until conversion to B-47 Stratojet jet medium bombers in 1954. Between 1954 and 1965, the 513 Bombardment Squadron flew a long series of simulated combat bombardment missions to maintain readiness as a unit of the Strategic Air Command, testing electronic warfare devices and radar techniques, using B-47 and EB-47 aircraft. Inactivated in 1965 with the retirement of the B-47.

Modern era

Currently the 512th participates in Special Operations contingencies, exercises, and humanitarian rescue helicopter training.[1][2]


  • Constituted as 512th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 19 October 1942
Activated on 341 October 1942
Redesignated 512th Bombardment Squadron (Very Heavy) on 23 May 1945
Inactivated on 26 Mar 1946
  • Redesignated 512th Reconnaissance Squadron (Very Long-Range, Weather) on 6 May 1947
Activated on 23 May 1947
Inactivated on 20 Sep 1948
  • Activated on 13 Feb 1949
Inactivated on 20 Feb 1951
  • Redesignated 512th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) on 25 May 1951
Activated on 1 June 1951
Inactivated on 15 Mar 1965
  • Redesignated 512th Special Operations Squadron on 25 Mar 1994
Activated on 1 Apr 1994
Redesignated 512th Rescue Squadron on 6 Oct 2000


Bases stationed[1][2]

Detachment operated from Benina Airport, Benghazi, Libya, 3–11 Oct 1943

Deployed at: RAF Upper Heyford, England (8 July – 16 October 1955)

Aircraft Operated[1][2]



 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

External links

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