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News > Hammer ACE team provides comm after Navy jet crash
Hammer ACE
Staff Sgt. Robert Shoemaker, 51st Combat Communications Squadron Hammer Adaptive Communications Element operator, adjusts a satellite which helped provide telephone and Internet services to the on-site commander of the June 15 crash of a Navy T-45 Goshawk in Texas. (Courtesy Photo)
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Hammer ACE team provides comm after Navy jet crash

Posted 6/30/2011   Updated 7/7/2011 Email story   Print story


by Robert Talenti
689th Combat Communications Wing

6/30/2011 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Master Sgt. Jeffery Jordan, Hammer Adaptive Communications Element (ACE) team flight chief, got the call to deploy one of his teams to the crash site of a Navy T-45 Goshawk from Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas, just a few hours after the aircraft crashed in a remote field of a private ranch in McMullen County, Texas, June 15.

The pilot, a student naval aviator, safely ejected from the aircraft and was treated for minor injuries.

Hammer ACE is a highly-capable, light and lean, quick response team that belongs to the 51st Combat Communications Squadron, 5th Combat Communications Group, 689th Combat Communications Wing at Robins Air Force Base, Ga.

The other members of Sergeant Jordan's team include Tech. Sgt. Jason Combs, team chief, Staff Sgt. Robert Shoemaker, operator one, and Staff Sgt. Timothy Wheeler, operator two, and 30 cases of communications equipment.

"We verified the order, loaded up and our team was ready to go in just two hours," he said. "This mission is remote - from our data the closest dirt road is a couple of miles out from the site."

Even so, Sergeant Jordan didn't foresee any issues or problems ahead for his team.

"The team is highly fit, motivated, field-trained, and combat-seasoned communicators," he said. "They will tackle whatever is in front of them and will provide self-sustained communications to the on-site commander in as little time as possible."

After some coordination on requirements and airlift to the location, the team arrived at the crash scene. They met with Navy Cmdr. Darren Guenther, senior mishap investigator, outside the accident site at approximately 8 a.m., June 17.

"Sergeants Combs, Shoemaker and Wheeler of the Hammer ACE team arrived at a moment's notice after we called requesting their assistance following [the] mishap," said Commander Guenther. "The Hammer ACE team was able to provide us communications support from phone coverage, Internet coverage, and intra-site communications essential to our safety and operations in 100 degree temperatures. Without them, we would not have even had phone coverage back to our base. They immediately joined our mishap investigation team and were critical throughout our investigation."

The Hammer ACE team provided phone, Internet, satellite phone service, intra-site connectivity via land mobile radio, and air-to-ground radio to communicate with U.S. Coast Guard helicopters. Additionally, the Hammer ACE Team provided LMRs for air-to-ground radio interconnectivity. They are responsible for field communications services to the crash site investigation team until the mission is completed.

The teams respond to two or three aircraft crashes annually, but remain on-call for natural disaster relief and other crisis response as directed by the Air Force.

"Thanks go out to the team," said Commander Guenther, "and in Navy terms, Bravo Zulu for a job well done."

The Navy is continuing its investigation into the cause of the crash.

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