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The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center holds change of command

  • Published
  • By Maj. Andrew Scott

The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center here held a change of command ceremony on August 1, 2023.

After two years as the AFRCC command, Lt. Col. Matthew Mustain relinquished command to Lt. Col. Ryan Sealy. Lt. Gen. Nordhaus, commander of the Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Region – First Air Force (Air Forces Northern and Air Forces Space) presided over the ceremony.

“All great organizations usually have great leadership, and the AFRCC is certainly no exception,” said Nordhaus. “As a rescue pilot, Lt. Col. Mustain saved 105 lives, 99 of them in combat. I’m sure he didn’t realize it at the time, but his last assignment would afford him the opportunity to save so many more! To Lt. Col. Sealy, I am confident that you are most qualified and right person to build upon the efforts of your predecessor and to do great things.”

An age-old tradition of passing of flags, or colors, symbolized the change in leadership as Sealy steps into his responsibilities as commander.

“I am humbled and deeply honored to step into the role of commander,” said Sealy. “This organization embodies the true essence of life-saving dedication. I stand here today, not as an individual, but as a proud member of this exceptional team. I am committed to supporting each one of you in this noble mission, for it is with your dedication and expertise that we truly make a difference.”

The ceremony not only marked a change in leadership at the AFRCC but also a big change in Mustain’s life, as he will retire after 20 years of dedicated service to the United States Air Force.

On behalf of the United States inland search and rescue coordinator, the commander U.S. Northern Command, the AFRCC serves as the single agency responsible for coordinating airborne and on-land federal support of SAR activities in the 48 contiguous United States. Additionally, the AFRCC maintains close contact with Mexico and Canada for mutual support of civil SAR across North America.

Falling under AFNORTH, the AFRCC operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The center directly ties into the Federal Aviation Administration's alerting system and the U.S. Mission Control Center. In addition to the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking information, the AFRCC computer system contains resource files that list federal and state organizations, which can conduct or assist in SAR efforts throughout North America.

In 2022 the AFRCC team recorded 11,970 incidents resulting in 530 SAR missions and a record 354 saves.

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