Last Flight of Angel One - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/26/05

Last Flight of Angel One

Talk about last flight out. Today's the day for a legendary Marine unit. Angel One's flown search-and-rescue missions for nearly half a century.

The squadron will certainly be missed. Although its main focus has always been to keep watch over the F/A 18 jets at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, it's always been a big asset to the community as well.

For years, Angel One has served as the eye in the sky, helping local search-and-rescue crews locate capsized boats, drowning swimmers, and missing persons.

"They were always there, any time we called," said Capt. Eric Taylor of the Lady's Island Fire Department. "They were on the spot quickly. They can get into areas we can't during search activities from the air because they were really the only ones we had to call. They would be there instantly as soon as we got the call."

But today, fellow crew members watched as Angel One lifted off from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort for its last flight after the squadron officially disbanded earlier this month.

"It's an economical and manpower issue, allowing us to save money in one regard and put more Marines into the fleet," explained Master Sgt. Jerry Morgan.

Although the US Coast Guard will be assisting in water rescues at the base and in the community, some local first responders are concerned.

"I don't believe they'll have the same response time we got from Angel One," said Capt. Taylor.

Once the helicopter lands in Cherry Point, it will be gutted for parts and stricken off the record. The 50-member crew will be reassigned to different squadrons throughout the world.

"There is some sadness here in Beaufort," Angel One's Capt. Jason Levy said.

The US Coast Guard in Savannah will be taking over search-and-rescue efforts on the water. The Air Force will be helping on land.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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