Glenwood grad takes part in Angel Thunder
Joint Hometown News Service
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
DAVIS-MONTHAN AFB, Ariz. – A shoulder-fired missile launches from a terrorist’s weapon, resulting in a direct hit, and an American military airplane slams into the desert floor.
Miles away at an operations center, rescue crews are quickly mobilized, first with machine guns blasting from an attack airplane, and followed by Air Force pararescue jumpers floating down to the Earth to extract the downed crew.
Even though this exact scene didn’t really happen, Shane F. Beckius understands these types of threats. He was among 1,400 U.S. military and coalition forces and federal and state officials participating in the fifth annual Angel Thunder exercise at Playas Research and Training Center in New Mexico on Oct. 17. It’s largest military combat search and rescue exercise in the world.
Air Force Airman 1st Class Shane F. Beckius, son of John and Wendy Beckius of Glenwood Springs, is an aircrew flight equipment specialist with 563rd Operations Support Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. Beckius participated in the exercise in that capacity.
“I ensure aircrew equipment is serviceable and ready to use for day-to-day missions and for worst case scenarios,” said Beckius, a 2007 Glenwood Springs High School graduate.
“My role in Angel Thunder is to assist all participating members of this exercise to ensure they have all the things needed for the mission,” he added.
Angel Thunder is a two-week exercise where military rescue personnel from around the world conduct hands-on emergency response training to help them in dealing with possible catastrophic events.
Training scenarios range from mass casualty and downed aircraft drills, to humanitarian and disaster relief efforts in both day and night rescue missions.
Angel Thunder also included urban environment scenarios where rescue specialists encountered actors playing enemy forces or residents in realistic foreign villages as part of a rescue scene.
“It is great to get a chance to see how other countries operate and to learn some new things,” Beckius said.
Angel Thunder is the only Department of Defense exercise for personnel recovery training and has become the world’s largest, incorporating 62 aircraft, service members from the United States and 13 international allies, along with eight federal and state agencies.
The University of Arizona Medical Center in Tucson was also involved and received approximately 40 exercise mock casualties via helicopter or ambulance.
“This exercise makes sure that I know my job, and that if air crews need to use these skills in real world situations, they’ll be ready to make it work, no matter what,” said Beckius.
Beckius hopes he and his unit will never face a terrorist attack, but if an attack occurs, teams like his will be able to react with a moment’s notice.
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