I was greatly saddened to hear of the passing of my friend, PJ Chief Nick McCaskill. Nick was a true warrior… This is a huge loss for the PJ community, the Air Force, and the country. Nick’s family, friends, and teammates came together last weekend to remember him in Tucson, AZ. Please read the story of the memorial here. – BK
Excerpt: In 2001, Chief McCaskill’s next assignment was the 320th Special Tactics Squadron, 353rd Special Operations Group, Kadena Air Base, Japan. While assigned as a special tactics pararescueman, he deployed to the Philippines where he augmented the 1st Special Forces Group Theater Quick Reaction Force. McCaskill provided vital combat-search-and-rescue expertise in direct support of a mission to rescue American hostages, for which he was awarded the Joint Service Achievement Medal from the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command.
In addition, he supported a maritime interdiction operation that led to the elimination of the region’s number one most-wanted terrorist. In 2003, the 353rd Special Operations Group recognized McCaskill as PJ of the Year for “building the most capable team in the unit’s history.”
McCaskill joined the 48th Rescue Squadron in 2005. He deployed to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom where he led 13 combat missions.
On one mission, McCaskill led a four-man rescue team to recover six U.S. Army aircrew and four 10th Mountain Division soldiers killed in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter crash. This recovery required a three-hour overland movement through hostile and hazardous mountainous terrain. While exposed to extreme danger from hostile machine gun and rocket propelled grenade fire, his team worked continuously for 24 hours taking sporadic enemy fire to ensure that all 10 killed in action and all sensitive items were recovered from the crash site.
“Nick’s skills leadership and persistence reduced a seven day recovery mission in to less than 48 hours, we all know how painful it would be to wait seven days to find out the status of a loved one,” said Keeler.
For his efforts on this mission, McCaskill was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.