Rescued hikers return to Kirtland to thank 58th SOW, 512 RQS

Carol Powell and Ronda Ramsier take a photo with 58th Special Operation Wing and 512th Rescue Squadron members in front of one of the HH-60G Pavehawks used to perform a search-and-rescue for them. Powell and Ramsier  became stranded for 36 hours with their two llamas during an evening hike early August. The hikers returned to Kirtland Dec. 12 to thank the members of the units who rescued them.

Carol Powell and Ronda Ramsier take a photo with 58th Special Operation Wing and 512th Rescue Squadron members in front of one of the HH-60G Pavehawks used to perform a search-and-rescue for them. Powell and Ramsier became stranded for 36 hours with their two llamas during an evening hike early August. The hikers returned to Kirtland Dec. 12 to thank the members of the units who rescued them.

Ronda Ramsier hugs Tech Sgt. Matthew Champagne, U.S. Air Force Pararescue School instructor, at the 58th Special Operations Wing on Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Dec. 12. Champagne served as one of the Airmen who assisted in the search-and-rescue mission near Durango, Colorado, early August, when Ramsier became lost while hiking.

Ronda Ramsier hugs Tech Sgt. Matthew Champagne, U.S. Air Force Pararescue School instructor, at the 58th Special Operations Wing on Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Dec. 12. Champagne served as one of the Airmen who assisted in the search-and-rescue mission near Durango, Colorado, early August, when Ramsier became lost while hiking.

Carol Powell presents Airmen from the 58th Special Operations Wing and 512th Rescue Squadron with pictures created by neighborhood children thanking them for her rescue. Powel become stranded during an August hike near Durango, Colorado. More than 50 Airmen assisted in the 12 hour search-and-rescue mission.

Carol Powell presents Airmen from the 58th Special Operations Wing and 512th Rescue Squadron with pictures created by neighborhood children thanking them for her rescue. Powell became stranded during an August hike near Durango, Colorado. More than 50 Airmen assisted in the 12 hour search-and-rescue mission.

Ronda Ramsier poses with Airmen from the 58th Special Operations Wing and 512th Rescue Squadron with pictures created by neighborhood children thanking them for her rescue. Ramsier became stranded during an August hike near Durango, Colorado. More than 50 Airmen assisted in the 12 hour search-and-rescue mission.

Ronda Ramsier poses with Airmen from the 58th Special Operations Wing and 512th Rescue Squadron with pictures created by neighborhood children thanking them for her rescue. Ramsier became stranded during an August hike near Durango, Colorado. More than 50 Airmen assisted in the 12 hour search-and-rescue mission.

Ronda Ramsier poses with Tech Sgt. Matthew Champagne, U.S. Air Force Pararescue School instructor, in the harness used to rescue her after she became stranded during an August hike near Durango, Colorado. More than 50 Airmen assisted in the 12 hour search-and-rescue mission.

Ronda Ramsier poses with Tech Sgt. Matthew Champagne, U.S. Air Force Pararescue School instructor, in the harness used to rescue her after she became stranded during an August hike near Durango, Colorado. More than 50 Airmen assisted in the 12 hour search-and-rescue mission.

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

Two hikers rescued by the 58th Special Operations Wing and its 512th Rescue Squadron visited Kirtland Air Force Base on Dec. 12 to offer thanks to the Airmen who saved their lives.

“It was a life-changing experience,” said Carol Powell, one of the rescued hikers. “You come that close to thinking that it is the end and then the military comes and saves you.”

Dawning the same clothing they were rescued in, Powell and fellow hiker Ronda Ramsier made a trip to bring pastries and thanks to the Airmen who saved their lives. Powell is from Ohio and Ramsier from Colorado.

“We heard from our local search and rescue that they never hear back from anyone rescued, and we couldn’t understand that,” Ramsier said. “Our memories of what these guys did for us are overwhelming.”

Powell and Ramsier became stranded for 36 hours with their two llamas near Durango, Colorado, during a hike in early August.

“To really be able to thank these guys, we had to come and thank them in person,” Powell said. “These Airmen went above and beyond to find us, so we wouldn’t have closure if we didn’t thank them in person.”

The hikers met with the two crews of the HH-60G Pave Hawks sent out to recover them and received a tour of the squadron.

“This is the first time that I’ve actually gotten to meet one of the people I’ve rescued,” said Tech Sgt. Matthew Champagne, U.S. Air Force Pararescue School instructor. “We pride ourselves on the motto ‘So that others may live,’ so it’s a very humbling experience to show them what equipment was used to help locate them.”

With four to nine months in training, aircrews spend countless hours preparing for challenging search-and-rescue environments overseas and stateside.

“This rescue was very challenging,” said Lt. Col. Nicholas Dipoma, 512th RQS commander. “Not just any crew would have been able to go out in such inclement weather and lead such a successful mission. I’m very proud of the crew for putting all the nonstop training that we do to use.”