This photo shows the first combat rescue behind enemy lines in Iraq

The image above was taken from an MH-53J from the 20th Special Operations Squadron, piloted by Capt. Thomas Trask, during the first Combat SAR (Search And Rescue) mission behind the enemy lines since Vietnam.

The combat rescue mission was launched on Jan. 21, 1991 to rescue Lt. Devon Jones, 130 miles into Iraq.

Jones was an F-14 Tomcat pilot from USS Saratoga’s VF-103, who was downed along with RIO (Radar Intercept Officer) Lawrence Slade by a SAM (Surface to Air Missile) over Iraq.

Larry “Rat” Slade endured interrogation, torture and starvation in the Iraqi hands for 43 days.

Image credit: AFSOC


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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


    • depending on the speed , altitude and attitude of the aircraft when they baled out, added to the winds, two persons ejecting at a two seconds interval may very well find themselves a mile from each other on the ground.
      maybe slide was injured, or maybe he just landed too close from enemy troops…
      i honestly don’t know.

    • That sucks. Good thing we don’t gut our military after every major conflict so things like this don’t happen…a 50% recovery rate is pretty bad.

      Thanks for the info.

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