Last December, a tourist visit to an island with an active volcano in New Zealand went catastrophically wrong. On December 9, while 47 tourists were admiring the natural beauties of the Whakaari/White Island, the volcano in the center of the island erupted.

In total, 20 people died and 25 wounded, most of who critically with severe burns. Because of the hectic nature of the evacuation, a number of people were left behind. It then fell to the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) to conduct the recovery operation for the bodies of those who were left on the island.

The elite New Zealand Special Air Service (NZSAS) was picked to lead the effort. More specifically, it was operators from the unit’s E Squadron. The NZSAS is comprised of five squadrons (A, B, D, E, and Support). A and B Squadrons are Sabre, or assault, squadrons. They focus on Direct Action (DA) and Special Reconnaissance (SR) operations – but can also perform Hostage Rescue (HR) and Counterterrorism (CT) operations. D Squadron, formerly the Commando Squadron, is the dedicated CT unit of the NZSAS. E Squadron is the EOD component of the unit. And, finally, Support Squadron provides logistical support to the others.