July 24, 2006

The Rescue Air Mobility Squad: Combat Firefighters

RAM squad exercises ability to rescue coalition forces

By Master Sgt. Andrew Gates
407th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs

ALI BASE, Iraq - Firefighting, in and of itself, tends to be a strenuous and dangerous job, requiring its practitioners to place themselves in harm’s way to save lives and property.

A team of 20 Air National Guard firefighters at Ali Base have volunteered to increase both the danger and the strenuousness of their job, working on the Rescue Air Mobility Squad.

RAMS members are combat firefighters who travel "outside the wire" – outside the protection of the military base – to rapidly extricate victims from vehicles, said Senior Master Sgt. Roy Moore, 407th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter and one of two team leaders for the RAMS. This includes crashed vehicles or vehicles affected by an improvised explosive device.

The 20 volunteers are split into two shifts. These two shifts are divided into three three-person squads each, with the two team leaders on each shift assigned to the RAMS mission to provide consistency. That means that each squad is ‘on-call’ every three weeks

"Military firefighters normally work 24 hours on and 24 hours off," he said. "Our volunteers for RAMS work their 24 hours as firefighters, and then are ‘on-call’ for RAMS during their next 24-hour period – and then go back to their firefighting duty. For the week they work RAMS, they are really working a week straight."

I highly encourage you to read the whole story about these extraordinary volunteers.


MSgt (ret.) Tom Schipper had this to say about fallen Air Force SSgt. Ray Rangel, a member of a RAMS team who died on February 13, 2005:

"I want Ray's wife to know how special Ray was to our team in Iraq. As you know, I was in charge of the RAMS Team and personally picked Ray to go on that mission that morning. He had just arrived a few days before and was ready and willing to do the mission that we had at Balad. I remember asking Ray if he was ready to go just before the chopper landed to take them to the scene. He gave me a huge smile and a confident nod and told me he was ready to go. I want you and everybody out there to know that Ray Rangel was a true Hero and that he died doing what we all loved to do. We were firefighters in the US Air Force committed to saving the lives of our fellow man. Ray Rangel gave the ultimate sacrafice in trying to save three Army personnel from a overturned HUMVEE in the middle of a canal. I will never forget him and the hero that he was to me and all the members of the first ever Air Force Rescue Air Mobility Squad to serve in Iraq."

MSgt (retired) Tom Schipper of Phoenix, Arizona

Posted by Kyer at July 24, 2006 12:37 PM | TrackBack