Firefighters from 101st Rescue Squadron of Air National Guard 'will fight our way in and fight our way out' to get injured soldiers in the war zone
BY JOE KEMP
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
PUBLISHED: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2012
AIR FORCE MASTER SGT. JAMES MARTIN
Smoke-eaters (from far left) Shaun Cullen, Tripp Zanetis, James Denniston and Erick Pound have saved nearly 100 lives as crew flies into combat zones to aid troops in Afghanistan.
They were the Bravest of rescue operations overseas — a team of four FDNY firefighters flying into combat to tend to wounded troops in Afghanistan.
The smoke-eaters of the 101st Rescue Squadron of the New York Air National Guard were deployed to more than 50 missions and saved nearly 100 lives between September and November while stationed at Camp Bastion in the southern part of the war-torn country.
“Those guys knew that if they were hurt, we were going to come get them no matter what,” said Shaun Cullen, 33, the crew’s captain and pilot of the HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter. “They knew we will fight our way in and fight our way out. We will come get you.”
Cullen, a nine-year veteran firefighter from Engine Co. 54 in Manhattan, and his crew began responding to emergencies in combat zones in less than eight minutes — about half the Air Force’s 15-minute average.
“We’re all bringing the same way we operate back home and applying it here,” Cullen said. “That brings the level up a notch.”
About five other FDNY firefighters make up the entire 20-man unit of the 26th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron, but Cullen had the only team made entirely of New York’s Bravest.
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