3 U.S. ‘guardian angels’ drop into New Zealand-hosted exercise

3 U.S. ‘guardian angels’ drop into New Zealand-hosted exercise
Exercise
Image by U.S. Pacific Air Forces
OHAKEA, New Zealand — United States Air Force Tech. Sgt. Steve Raethel touches down at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea, New Zealand, Nov. 23 during Exercise Kiwi Flag. Kiwi Flag is a multilateral RNZAF-sponsored tactical airlift exercise held at RNZAF Base Ohakea. Raethel, deployed as a 517th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron jumpmaster, conducted a high-altitude low-opening freefall parachute deployment from a C-17 Globemaster III with two other personnel. He began a 35-second freefall, before he opened the parachute at 3,500 feet, after which Raethel underwent a 3-minute descent under canopy before landing at the drop zone. The C-17 is out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. Raethel is the survival, evasion, resistance and escape noncommissioned officer in charge for the 437th Operations Support Squadron at home station, Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina. He hails from Kailua, Hawaii. The three-man parachute team comprises two pararescuemen and a survive, evade, resist and escape specialist: two of the three job classifications that make up the U.S. Guardian Angel Weapon System, which also includes combat rescue officers. Kiwi Flag personnel are supporting Exercise Southern Katipo — held in New Zealand’s South Island — by managing air operations and providing cargo and passenger airlift including tactical air drops to SK participants. SK hosts nine countries involved in air, land and maritime operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Denise Johnson/Released)

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