Palatka, FL—In a recent news release, the U.S. Navy recognized one of its helicopter units for rescuing a civilian pilot who was trapped in an inaccessible area near Palatka, FL on March 14, 2022. The report said that sailors from the Navy’s Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 70, the “Spartans,” were conducting training exercises when they received and responded to a distress signal about a stranded civilian pilot. The two Navy helicopters quickly located an aircraft and its pilot stuck in a marsh area. Crew members from one of the helicopters dispatched the rescue basket to the stranded civilian pilot while the other helicopter provided watch. The civilian pilot was taken to the Palatka Municipal Airport for medical evaluation and treatment.
The Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 70 is part of the Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing Atlantic. They are led by Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Anthony J. Polo, Executive. Officer, Cmdr. Thaddeus “Scrubs” Rusinek, and Command Master Chief, CMDCM Teri A. Bourcher. According to their website, the mission of HSM 70 is to “provide combat ready aircrew and aircraft to fight and win in any environment on time, every time.” Luckily, this highly trained unit often practices search and rescue missions; although, those are not their primary duty. On this day, however, their training and preparation was put to the test.
The crews from HSM 70 involved in this rescue certainly proved not only their readiness to act but also their willingness to help and serve those in need. For the Spartans’ commitment to excellence and service in the rescue of a distressed civilian pilot, Salute recognizes the HSM 70 as the Unit of the Quarter for the summer of 2022.