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HH-60G A6212 takes final flight before retirement

HH-60G Pave Hawk A6212, assigned to the 56th Rescue Squadron, sits on the runway after refueling at an airport in Croatia during its final flight before retirement, Sept. 23, 2021. A6212 is scheduled to be stripped of required components then mounted in front of the 56th Rescue Squadron, building 7300. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)

HH-60G Pave Hawk A6212, assigned to the 56th Rescue Squadron, sits on the runway after refueling at an airport in Croatia during its final flight before retirement, Sept. 23, 2021. A6212 is scheduled to be stripped of required components then mounted in front of the 56th Rescue Squadron, building 7300. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Steven Prather, 56th Rescue Squadron operations superintendent, peers out the door of an HH-60G Pave Hawk A6212’s during its final flight in Croatia, Sept. 23, 2021. For more than 30 years, A6212 has been assigned exclusively to the 56th RQS. In September 2021, the helicopter is the first aircraft to retire out of the 56th with the plan to become a static display. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Steven Prather, 56th Rescue Squadron operations superintendent, peers out the door of an HH-60G Pave Hawk A6212’s during its final flight in Croatia, Sept. 23, 2021. For more than 30 years, A6212 has been assigned exclusively to the 56th RQS. In September 2021, the helicopter is the first aircraft to retire out of the 56th with the plan to become a static display. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)

U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk A6212 takes its final flight Sept. 23, 2021. A6212 has saved and assisted more than 958 lives and has flown 9,362.4 hours and has retired after 30 years of service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)

U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk A6212 takes its final flight Sept. 23, 2021. A6212 has saved and assisted more than 958 lives and has flown 9,362.4 hours and has retired after 30 years of service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)

A U.S. Air Force Airman assigned to the 56th Rescue Squadron prepare an HH-60G Pave Hawk A6212 for its final sortie at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Sept. 23, 2021. Wheel chocks are wedges of sturdy material placed closely against a vehicle's wheels to prevent accidental movement and are placed for safety in addition to setting the brakes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)

A U.S. Air Force Airman assigned to the 56th Rescue Squadron prepare an HH-60G Pave Hawk A6212 for its final sortie at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Sept. 23, 2021. Wheel chocks are wedges of sturdy material placed closely against a vehicle's wheels to prevent accidental movement and are placed for safety in addition to setting the brakes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)

U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk A6212 lands in Croatia during its final sortie Sept. 23, 2021. A6212 was stationed at Naval Air Station Keflavik from 1992-2006, Royal Air Force Lakenheath from 2006-2018 and Aviano Air Base from 2018 to present. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)

U.S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk A6212 lands in Croatia during its final sortie Sept. 23, 2021. A6212 was stationed at Naval Air Station Keflavik from 1992-2006, Royal Air Force Lakenheath from 2006-2018 and Aviano Air Base from 2018 to present. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kinga Hudson, 56th Rescue Squadron special missions aviator, performs training during a training sortie in Croatia Sept. 23, 2021. The HH-60G A6212 helicopter completed its final sortie before retirement and three crew members completed .50 caliber and mini gun training during the sortie. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kinga Hudson, 56th Rescue Squadron special missions aviator, performs training during a training sortie in Croatia Sept. 23, 2021. The HH-60G A6212 helicopter completed its final sortie before retirement and three crew members completed .50 caliber and mini gun training during the sortie. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)

Tech. Sgt. William Mathis, 56th Rescue Squadron special missions aviator evaluator, shoots out of an HH-60G Pave Hawk during a final sortie in Croatia, Sept. 23, 2021. The 56th RQS integrated with the 173rd Army unit from Vicenza and provided top cover during a live-fire exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)

Tech. Sgt. William Mathis, 56th Rescue Squadron special missions aviator evaluator, shoots out of an HH-60G Pave Hawk during a final sortie in Croatia, Sept. 23, 2021. The 56th RQS integrated with the 173rd Army unit from Vicenza and provided top cover during a live-fire exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kinga Hudson, 56th Rescue Squadron special missions aviator, loads ammunition onto an HH-60G Pave Hawk in Croatia, Sept. 23, 2021. Three crew members completed .50 caliber and mini gun training during the sortie. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kinga Hudson, 56th Rescue Squadron special missions aviator, loads ammunition onto an HH-60G Pave Hawk in Croatia, Sept. 23, 2021. Three crew members completed .50 caliber and mini gun training during the sortie. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kinga Hudson, 56th Rescue Squadron special missions aviator, looks out of an HH-60G Pave Hawk’s window during its final sortie, Sept. 23, 2021. There are five helicopters assigned to the 56th RQS with two retiring by the end of 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kinga Hudson, 56th Rescue Squadron special missions aviator, looks out of an HH-60G Pave Hawk’s window during its final sortie, Sept. 23, 2021. There are five helicopters assigned to the 56th RQS with two retiring by the end of 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)

Tech. Sgt. William Mathis, 56th Rescue Squadron special missions aviator evaluator, inspects the blades on the tail rotor of an HH-60G Pave Hawk assigned to the 56th Rescue Squadron during a refuel stop in Croatia, Sept. 23, 2021. There are five helicopters assigned to the 56th RQS with two retiring by the end of 2021. The 56th RQS will receive more HH-60G models in February of 2022 to replace the two that retired. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)
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Tech. Sgt. William Mathis, 56th Rescue Squadron special missions aviator evaluator, inspects the blades on the tail rotor of an HH-60G Pave Hawk assigned to the 56th Rescue Squadron during a refuel stop in Croatia, Sept. 23, 2021. There are five helicopters assigned to the 56th RQS with two retiring by the end of 2021. The 56th RQS will receive more HH-60G models in February of 2022 to replace the two that retired. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)

Ammunition is loaded onto an HH-60G Pave Hawk A6212 assigned to the 56th Rescue Squadron in preparation for a final sortie at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Sept. 23, 2021. The HH-60G helicopter completed its final sortie before retirement and the three crew members completed .50 caliber and mini gun training during the sortie. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)
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Ammunition is loaded onto an HH-60G Pave Hawk A6212 assigned to the 56th Rescue Squadron in preparation for a final sortie at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Sept. 23, 2021. The HH-60G helicopter completed its final sortie before retirement and the three crew members completed .50 caliber and mini gun training during the sortie. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)

Senior Airman Ryan Seidowsky, 56th Helicopter Maintenance Unit crew chief, marshals in HH-60G Pave Hawk A6212 after completing its final sortie before retirement Sept. 23, 2021, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. A6212 was stationed at Naval Air Station Keflavik from 1992-2006, Royal Air Force Lakenheath from 2006-2018 and Aviano Air Base from 2018 to present. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)
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Senior Airman Ryan Seidowsky, 56th Helicopter Maintenance Unit crew chief, marshals in HH-60G Pave Hawk A6212 after completing its final sortie before retirement Sept. 23, 2021, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. A6212 was stationed at Naval Air Station Keflavik from 1992-2006, Royal Air Force Lakenheath from 2006-2018 and Aviano Air Base from 2018 to present. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brooke Moeder)

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy --

The HH-60G Pave Hawk zipped side-to-side as it performed aerial maneuvers above Croatia. All the while, two crew members fired their mini guns at targets with precision and focus. The helicopter provided top cover for U.S. Army soldiers on the ground below. Although, this helicopter was on its final flight after 30 years of service. 

This particular HH-60G Pave Hawk, A6212, has saved and assisted more than 958 lives and has flown 9,362.4 hours - the most hours of any HH-60 in the 56th Rescue Squadron’s (RQS) fleet.

For A6212’s whole lifetime, it has been assigned exclusively to the 56th RQS. In September 2021, the helicopter became the first aircraft to retire out of the 56th with the plan to become a static display.

When A6212 came off the production line, it was assigned to three different training bases. The first was the 1550th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Training Wing at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico from 1990-1991. Following that, the aircraft was stationed at Troy, Alabama and Camp Blandings, Florida from 1991-1992.

A6212 was stationed at Naval Air Station Keflavik from 1992-2006, Royal Air Force Lakenheath from 2006-2018, and Aviano Air Base from 2018 to present.

“A6212 has been flying with the 56th RQS since September of 1992 when the RQS received its first HH-60G model,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Aaron J. Peterson, 56th RQS Helicopter Maintenance Unit production superintendent. “It has also flown in multiple wartime and peacetime contingencies.”

The HH-60 completed its final sortie Sept. 23, 2021, while three crew members conducted .50 caliber and mini gun training. The helicopter flew flawlessly on its final flight and no discrepancies were noted from the pilots upon landing, said Peterson.

“The final sortie was [more than] 5 hours and three crew members were also re-certified on the gun systems,” said Peterson. “The 31st Operations Group commander, U.S. Air Force Col. Kevin Crofton, flew with them and they integrated with the 173rd Army unit from Vicenza, where we provided top cover for live-fire exercises.”

After its final flight, A6212’s last dedicated crew chief, Senior Airman Ryan Seidowsky, 56th RQS HMU HH-60 DCC, marshalled in the helicopter, which concluded the last flight.

“It's been fun being the DCC,” said Seidowsky. “A6212 was the first aircraft I flew on at RAF Lakenheath in early 2018 when they were getting ready to move to Aviano. We flew around England for about four hours and at some point the pilots asked us if we wanted hot chocolate and they just landed at an airport and gave us hot chocolate.”

As a DCC, Seidowsky worked on almost every part of A6212 and has flown more than six times on the aircraft and acclaims to how well it flies.

“Pilots will have things going on in-flight that we can't mimic on the ground so the DCCs go up with them to see what they see,” said Seidowsky. “It gives us a better idea of what to look at or fix.”

Now that A6212 is retired, it is scheduled to be stripped of the required components, then the 31st Maintenance Squadron will complete a full paint job in the spring of 2022. The helicopter will then be mounted in front of the 56th Rescue Squadron, building 7300.

There are five helicopters assigned to the 56th RQS with two retiring by the end of 2021; the 56th RQS will receive more HH-60G models in February 2022 as replacements.

In the future, the 56th RQS is scheduled to receive new models of the helicopter.

“The long term plan is for the 56th RQS to receive the new HH-60W Jolly Green models which is estimated for some time in 2023,” said Peterson.

A6212, one of the 56th RQS’s original helicopters, will serve as a reminder of the sacrifices made by the Rescue Squadron to the United States and the alliances made within NATO.

“This helicopter is the last of the original fleet since we have done five aircraft transfers or retirements in the past year,” said Peterson. “This marks the end of a chapter for the 56th and its aging fleet, we look forward to proudly mounting A6212 on display where she can rest and showcase the heritage of our squadron.”