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Sikorsky MH-53J Pave Low III Desert Storm CSAR mission

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Published on Oct 7, 2008

6:05 a.m. 160 miles inside Iraq, 30 miles from Baghdad:
Lts. Devon Jones and Larry Slade bail out of their U.S. Navy F-14 Tomcat when it is struck by an Iraqi SA-2 missile.

8:00 a.m. Arar Airfield, Saudi Arabia:
USAF 20th Special Operations Squadron Capt. Tom Trask, Maj. Mike Homan and crew take off in dense fog in an MH-53J Pave Low helicopter en route to the crash site.

8:15 a.m. Iraqi border:
Capt. Trask and Maj. Homan drop their helicopter to a flight altitude of 15 feet to avoid enemy radar and proceed to the crash site.

8:50 a.m. Crash site vicinity, Iraq:
An enemy fighter appears, then retreats when two USAF F-15 Eagles pick the fighter up on their radar. Capt. Trask, Maj. Homan and crew join the search and rescue team and begin their search for Lts. Jones and Slade.

10:30 a.m.
Unknown to the team, Lt. Slade is captured. (He is not released until March 4, 1991.)

Arar Airfield, Saudi Arabia:
The MH-53J crew is unable to locate the downed F-14 crew and return to refuel; they fly back to the crash site and resume their search.

1:55 p.m. Crash site vicinity, Iraq:
The helicopter crew makes radio contact with Lt. Jones; one of the door gunners spots an enemy truck heading toward Lt. Jones. Two USAF A-10A Thunderbolt IIs, components of the search and rescue team, remain despite critically low fuel and destroy the vehicle.

2:15 p.m.
Capt. Trask lands the MH-53J less than 150 yards from the smoldering truck, and a crewman, Sgt. Ben Pennington, helps an exhausted but grateful Lt. Jones into the helicopter.

3:15 p.m. Iraqi border:
Capt Trask, Maj. Homan, the crew and Lt. Jones return safely to Saudi Arabia.

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