National Guard rescue unit gets state-of-the-art training center at Moffett Field

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (KGO) -- A National Guard unit known for taking on high-risk and difficult rescue missions has a new training facility in the heart of Silicon Valley and the soldiers are convinced this will allow them to do even more.

The 129th Rescue Wing has helped injured hikers, people stranded aboard ships, and rescued military personnel in dangerous situations. All of that takes on-going training and now it has a first-rate facility to hone those skills.

It took years for this to happen, the defense department funding a brand new training facility for the California National Guard's 129th Rescue Wing. It happened only after congresswoman Anna Eshoo helped the unit to get a 50-year lease at Moffett Field.

This is a unit that responds quickly to state and national emergencies, including rescues at sea, earthquakes, and wildland fires. There have been multiple deployments to hot spots, including Afghanistan.

What the new $30 million facility does is consolidate operations, to help organize equipment and to train all under one roof, instead of being scattered in several structures.

"When the Governor, or the President says I need you to go do this mission, they don't have to worry about the equipment piece," said Taft Aujero, Operations Group Commander of the 129th Rescue Wing. "All they have to worry about is the personnel piece. Are you trained? Are you ready to go? What else do we need to get you in the right mindset?"

The six-story high drying tower is state-of-the-art for parachutes, a key tool of the 129th Rescue Wing. Salt water can shorten the life of parachutes.

"When we are training, we want to be able to use these parachutes over and over again, and so what this facility in particular allows us to do, it's climate controlled. It allows us to wash the parachutes, dry them in a controlled environment and be able to re-use so that we can continue our mission set and continue the training," said Lt. Roderick Bersamina, public affairs officer for the 129th Rescue Wing.

The pararescuemen who belong to the wing's 131st Rescue Squadron are deployed to recover people, civilian and military, in every conceivable environment, from deserts to mountains and at sea.

The centralized facility, including classroom space, is expected to serve its needs for the next half-century.

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