Captain David Anthony Wisniewski   
             dave             

In loving memory of Dave Wisniewski.


Captain David Anthony Wisniewski, "Wiz" to his military family, was a United States Air Force Combat Search and Rescue Helicopter Pilot assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron, 563rd Rescue Group, a geographically-separated unit of the 23rd Wing, Air Combat Command stationed at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

Dave was born June 27, 1979 in Fort Dodge, Iowa to Bev and Chet Wisniewski and had three brothers, Francis (died at birth), Craig and Matt. While growing up, he was an honors student and was active in sports, drama, speech and choir, but he always worked toward his goal of becoming a pilot. After graduating from Woodbury Central High School, he achieved the next major step in his life's plan and was nominated and accepted to the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the only college to which he applied. David graduated from the Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering in 2002; next to his yearbook photo, Dave wrote: "To the heroes and families of 11 September 2001, I'll do my best to keep it from happening again." He went on to complete his pilot's training, receiving his Wings in April, 2004. Dave was engaged to be married to his best friend, Melissa Sandberg.

By graduating at the top of his pilots' class, Dave was able to choose his primary aircraft, and he chose to fly helicopters so he could become a rescue pilot. His first overseas station, while assigned to the 33rd Rescue Squadron, was Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa, Japan from which he participated in rescue operations after Typhoon Muifa devastated the Philippines in 2004. In 2008 Dave was assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron at Nellis AFB and completed the USAF Weapons School, after which he became the squadron Chief of Weapons and Tactics and was classified as Evaluator Mission Pilot. During his eight years of active duty, Dave served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and was on his seventh overseas deployment, again in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

Dave had a passion for what he did and believed in his work completely. He was able to both fly the aircraft he loved and help those in need at the same time. Dave's work as a rescue helicopter pilot saved hundreds of lives - 240 were saved during his latest tour of duty; and in a single day, he and his crew were credited with saving 40 people. Dave epitomized the rescue motto - "These things we do, that others may live".

David logged more than 1,500 flight hours and 289 combat hours. During the memorial service held at his home base, Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 15, 2010, the Air Force announced they renamed the "HH-60G Outstanding Flyer Award" (which Dave earned in 2008) to the "Captain Dave Wisniewski Memorial Flying Award" for all future outstanding flyers graduates.

Dave was decorated with nineteen different Military Medals and Awards during his short Air Force career. Several were awarded to Dave multiple times as indicated with additional "oak leaf cluster" or "bronze star" devices; each device represents an additional award of the same medal (for example, Dave was awarded the Air Medal thirteen times - the initial medal, plus twelve additional awards of the Air Medal indicated by the "twelve oak leaf clusters"). Dave's decorations include, in order of precedence:

Purple Heart Purple Heart
Air Medal Air Medal with twelve oak leaf clusters
Air Force Achievement Medal Air Force Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Air Force Combat Action Medal Air Force Combat Action Medal
Meritorious Unit Award Meritorious Unit Award with one oak leaf cluster
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with two oak leaf clusters
Combat Readiness Medal Combat Readiness Medal
National Defense Service Medal National Defense Service Medal
Afghanistan Campaign Medal Afghanistan Campaign Medal with bronze star
Iraq Campaign Medal Iraq Campaign Medal with bronze star
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Korean Defense Service Medal Korean Defense Service Medal
Air Force Overseas Ribbon - Long Tour Air Force Overseas Ribbon - Long Tour
Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon with Gold Border Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon with Gold Border and two oak leaf clusters
Air Force Longevity Service Award Air Force Longevity Service Award with two oak leaf clusters
Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon with bronze star
Air Force Training Ribbon Air Force Training Ribbon
Non-Article 5 NATO Medal (ISAF) Non-Article 5 NATO Medal - International Security Assistance Force

On Wednesday, June 9 2010, two Air Force Combat Search and Rescue Sikorsky HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters (call signs "Pedro 66" and "Pedro 67") flew their third mission of the day from their base near Bastion, southern Afghanistan. This mission was to rescue a critically injured British Marine near Forward Operating Base Jackson in the Sangin district, Helmand province, in southern Afghanistan.

Upon arriving at the scene, both helicopters immediately came under enemy fire. "Pedro 67" landed to recover the wounded Marine, while "Pedro 66" (Nicknamed "Snow Ball", S/N 89-26201, assigned to the 55th Rescue Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona) remained in the air to provide cover.

While still airborne, "Pedro 66" was hit by an enemy launched rocket-propelled grenade, critically damaging the tail rotor. Prior to the aircraft's uncontrollable spin and subsequent crash, Captain Wisniewski was able to guide "Snow Ball" away from the Landing Zone, friendly troops and civilian houses on the ground, avoiding probable additional loss of life. Immediately, Royal Marines of the 40 Commando's Charlie Company along with Pedro 67, risking their own lives, rushed to rescue the survivors and secure the scene.

One eyewitness stationed at Forward Operating Base Jackson, commenting on the "SOCNET: The Special Operations Community Network" Forum, noted that "One of the details that nobody mentions is that the pilot saved countless lives with his actions after being hit. ... The helo continued to slew at high speed straight towards our DFAC [Dining Facility]. I saw the pilot jam back on his stick as hard as he could and he spiralled up about 200'. ... That DFAC was serving the first hot lunch we had had for a while. It was packed full. Had the pilot panicked, we would have lost half the FOB [Forward Operating Base] and the JOC [Joint Operations Center]."

Four crew members were killed instantly in this June 9th attack.

- Technical Sergeant Michael Paul Flores, 31, of San Antonio, Texas. Pararescueman assigned to the 48th Rescue Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. Michael was born October 21, 1978 in Austin, Texas and was laid to rest with full military honors on Saturday, June 19, 2010 at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, San Antonio, Texas. Tech. Sgt. Flores had earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism, twelve Air Medals, and deployed eight times during his 12 years in the service.

- First Lieutenant Joel Christopher Gentz, 25, of Grass Lake, Michigan. Combat Rescue Officer, Weapons and Tactics Flight Commander assigned to the 58th Rescue Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada. Joel was born on July 9, 1984 in Rochester, New York and was buried on Wednesday, June 23, 2010 at Oak Grove East Cemetery, Chelsea, Michigan. 1st Lt. Gentz was on his first deployment to Afghanistan and had logged more than 50 hours of combat time.

- Staff Sergeant David Cazzie Smith, 26, of Eight Mile, Alabama. Helicopter Flight Engineer Instructor assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada. Born August 4, 1983, David was interred Monday, June 21, 2010 at Mobile Memorial Gardens, Mobile, Alabama. Staff Sgt. Smith had served in both Iraq and Afghanistan during his nine-year military career and had earned five Air Medals.

- Senior Airman Benjamin Daniel White, 24, of Erwin, Tennessee. Pararescueman assigned to the 48th Rescue Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. Benjamin was born October 16, 1985; Committal Service, with Graveside Military Honors was Tuesday, June 22, 2010, in the Mountain Home National Cemetery, Mountain Home, Tennessee. Senior Airman White had served in the Air Force since July 2006 and was on his first deployment.

Master Sergeant Christopher Aguilera (Aerial Gunner), Captain Anthony Simone (Co-Pilot) and Captain Dave Wisniewski (Aircraft Commander) survived with serious injuries. Chris and Tony are assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron, Nellis AFB and are still recovering.

Dave Wisniewski passed away as a result of his injuries at age 31 on July 2, 2010 at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Visitation for David took place Friday evening, July 23, 2010 at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Iowa City, Iowa. A funeral mass at the church followed the next day, Saturday July 24, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. Iowa Governor Chet Culver ordered flags in Iowa be flown at half staff on Saturday to honor Captain Wisniewski and he spoke at the funeral mass. Dave was laid to rest with full military honors at 11 a.m., August 23, 2010 in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery.

We love you Dave and thank you for all the good you accomplished.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." ~ John 15:13 ~



Craig Stanley 2 1/2 yrs old
David Anthony 4 mo old
Chet & Bev Wisniewski taken Oct 1979
Merry Christmas !
(hand-written caption)
David Four Months Old, Craig 2 1/2 yrs (Oct 1979)
David Anthony
12 Mo old
June 1980
(hand-written caption)
David Anthony
12 Mo old
June 1980
(hand-written caption)
Craig Stanley 4 yrs old
David Anthony 2 yrs old
Wisniewski
Taken June 1981
David's birthday
(hand-written caption)
David Anthony 2 yrs old
Wisniewski
Taken June 1981
David's birthday
(hand-written caption)
Playing in the back yard at Ft. Dodge (Summer 1981)
Playing in the back yard at Ft. Dodge (Summer 1981)
Playing in the back yard at Ft. Dodge (Summer 1981)
Playing in the back yard at Ft. Dodge (Summer 1981)
Playing in the back yard at Ft. Dodge (Summer 1981)
David, Chet and Bev, Ft. Dodge (Summer 1981)
Grandma and Grandpa's front yard (Summer 1981)
Grandma and Grandpa's front yard (Summer 1981)
Grandma and Grandpa's front yard - Dave and Brooke (Summer 1981)
(Summer 1981 or 1982)
(Summer 1981 or 1982)
Craig 5 years 3 mo
David 3 years
June 1982
(hand-written caption)
Christmas - David holding Sarah (Dec 1982)
Christmas - David holding Sarah (Dec 1982)
Christmas - David holding Sarah (Dec 1982)
Christmas (Dec 1982)
Christmas (Dec 1982)
Christmas (Dec 1982)
Christmas (Dec 1982)
Christmas (Dec 1982)
Christmas (Dec 1982)
Christmas - Dave and Grandpa (Dec 1982)
Christmas - Dave and Grandpa (Dec 1982)
Christmas - Dave and Grandma (Dec 1982)
Christmas - Dave and Grandma (Dec 1982)
Craig 6 years 3 mo
David 4 years
June 1983
(hand-written caption)
David
4 yrs 3 mo. Old
Sept 1983
(hand-written caption)
Grandma and Grandpa's (1983)
Grandma and Grandpa's (1983)
June 1984
Craig 7 years 3 mo
David 5 years
(hand-written caption)
David 5 yrs 3 mo.
1984
(hand-written caption)
Baptism day. Feb 24, 1985
Craig, Dad, David, Matt & Mom
(hand-written caption)
Kelsey, Carrissa, Kaitlyn, Craig, Matt and Dave (Jun 1985)
David
6 yrs 3 mo
Sept. 1985
(hand-written caption)
Christmas (Dec 1985)
David
Sept. 1986
7 yr 3 mo.
(hand-written caption)
David
8 yr 3 mo
[Sep 1987]
(hand-written caption)
Christmas (Dec 1988)
Christmas (Dec 1988)
Christmas (Dec 1988)
Craig's Birthday while visiting Texas (Mar 27 1989)
Craig's Birthday while visiting Texas (Mar 27 1989)
David Anthony
Sept. 1989
10 yrs 3 mo. Old
(hand-written caption)
Christmas (Dec 1989)
Christmas (Dec 1989)
David Anthony
Sept. 1990
5th grade
11 yrs. 3 mo. Old
(hand-written caption)
Christmas (Dec 1990)
Christmas (Dec 1990)
Christmas (Dec 1990)
Christmas (Dec 1990)
Christmas (Dec 1990)
David
14 yrs old
Sept. 1993
8th grade
(hand-written caption)
Christmas (Dec 1993)
Christmas (Dec 1993)
Christmas (Dec 1993)
Christmas (Dec 1993)
Christmas (Dec 1993)
David
1994 - Sept.
Freshman
(hand-written caption)
Christmas (Dec 1995)
Grandpa Frank's 70th Birthday (Dec 9 1996)
Grandpa Frank's 70th Birthday (Dec 9 1996)
Grandpa Frank's 70th Birthday (Dec 9 1996)
Frank and JoAnn 50th Anniversary (Jul 1997)
Frank and JoAnn 50th Anniversary (Jul 1997)
Frank and JoAnn 50th Anniversary (Jul 1997)
Frank and JoAnn 50th Anniversary (Jul 1997)
Frank and JoAnn 50th Anniversary (Jul 1997)
Frank and JoAnn 50th Anniversary (Jul 1997)
Frank and JoAnn 50th Anniversary (Jul 1997)
Frank and JoAnn 50th Anniversary (Jul 1997)
Frank and JoAnn 50th Anniversary (Jul 1997)
High School Senior (1997-1998)
High School Senior (1997-1998)
High School Senior (1997-1998)
High School Senior (1997-1998)
Christmas in Texas at the Prucha's (Dec 1997)
Christmas at Bev and Chet's in Moville (Dec 1998)
Christmas at Bev and Chet's in Moville (Dec 1998)
Christmas at Bev and Chet's in Moville (Dec 1998)
Christmas at Bev and Chet's in Moville (Dec 1998)
Christmas at Bev and Chet's in Moville (Dec 1998)
Christmas (Dec 1999)
Christmas (Dec 1999)
Christmas (Dec 1999)
Christmas (Dec 1999)
Christmas (Dec 2001)
Christmas (Dec 2001)
Stopover in Houston - Colleen, Bryce, Dave and Rachel (Summer 2002)
Stopover in Houston - David holding Bryce (Summer 2002)
Stopover in Houston - David holding Bryce (Summer 2002)
Wisniewski Family (Around 2003)
Shotgun Lessons for cousin Rachel (Dec 31 2003)
Shotgun Lessons for cousin Rachel (Dec 31 2003)
Cousins - Rachel, Matt, Colleen and Dave (Jan 2 2004)
Received Wings April 2004
(hand-written caption)
Received Wings April 2004
(hand-written caption)
Dave's first assignment. Stationed in Okinawa, Japan, assigned to Philippines to help with Typhoon Muifa disaster. (Dec 2004)
Dave's first assignment. Stationed in Okinawa, Japan, assigned to Philippines to help with Typhoon Muifa disaster. (Dec 2004)
Dave's first assignment. Stationed in Okinawa, Japan, assigned to Philippines to help with Typhoon Muifa disaster. (Dec 2004)
Co-Pilot Dave in the 33rd Rescue Squadron (2007?)
Dave relaxing (Possibly Mar 2008)
Dave (left) and his crew on deployment (Possibly Mar 2008)
Dave (left) and his crew on deployment - Enlargement of prior photo (Possibly Mar 2008)
Dave on deployment (Possibly Mar 2008)
Dec. 2008
Graduation from
Weapon School
Las Vegas (Dec 2008)
Dec. 2008
Graduation from
Weapon School
Las Vegas (Dec 2008)
This is Dave (second) to left, with his crew on his last deployment in Iraq. (Melissa caption) (Jun 2009)
This is Dave (second) to left, with his crew on his last deployment in Iraq. (Melissa caption) - Enlargement of prior photo (Jun 2009)
This is Dave (second) to left, with his crew on his last deployment in Iraq. (Melissa caption) - Enlargement of prior photo (Jun 2009)
Melissa and Dave (2009?)
Dave (2009?)
Dave and Melissa (2009?)
Melissa and Dave (2009?)
Birthday (Jun 27, 2009)
Birthday (Jun 27, 2009)
Melissa and Dave (Nov 2009)
Montage (Nov 2009)
Dave and Cael (Nov 2009)
Dave and Cael (Nov 2009)
Montage (Nov 2009)
Dave and Chet (Nov 2009)
Melissa and Dave (Nov 2009)
Melissa and Dave (Nov 2009)
Dave (Nov 2009)
Dave (Nov 2009)
Dave (Nov 2009)
Dave (Nov 2009)
Dave and Cael (Nov 2009)
Dave and Cael (Nov 2009)
Montage (Nov 2009)
Dave (Nov 2009)
Dave (Nov 2009)
Dave (Nov 2009)
Wisniewski Family Thanksgiving (Nov 2009)
Brooke and Dave, while Dave had a stopover in Baltimore, MD on his way overseas. (Feb 23, 2010)
HH-60G Pave Hawk Helicopter
Aerial Gunner (left) and Flight Engineer (right) (Mar 16, 2010)
Aerial Gunner (Mar 16, 2010)
Dave (Mar 19, 2010)
Dave (Mar 19, 2010)
Dave (Mar 19, 2010)
Dave (Mar 19, 2010)
Dave (Mar 19, 2010)
Landing (Mar 28, 2010)
Landing (Apr 25, 2010)
Landing in a dirt field (Apr 27, 2010)
Landing in a dirt field (Apr 27, 2010)
Landing in a dirt field (Apr 27, 2010)
HH-60G Pave Hawk (Mar 24, 2010)
Afghan Village (Mar 27, 2010)
Old Afghan Fort (Mar 28, 2010)
Afghan Civilians (Mar 28, 2010)
Afghan Civilians (Apr 16, 2010)
Terrain (Apr 26, 2010)
Afghan Civilians (Apr 26, 2010)
Afghan Civilians (Apr 26, 2010)
Afghan Nomads (Apr 27, 2010)
Afghan City (Apr 29, 2010)
Memorial Plaque (Jul 2010)
Air Force Memorial (Aug 22, 2010)
Air Force Memorial (Aug 22, 2010)
David's Headstone (Nov 11, 2010)


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