58 Special Operations Wing at Kirtland assists Colorado authorities missing hiker search

  • Published
  • By Sheridan Fidelman-Pallicer
  • 377 Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland Air Force Base is assisting in the search and rescue of a missing hiker in Southwest Colorado.

The hiker Ian O'Brien, went for a hike Saturday afternoon in the Echo Basin area of the La Plata Mountains in Colorado but when he did not return after nightfall, his party notified the authorities.

The sheriff’s department activated the Montezuma County Search and Rescue team.

After two days of searching for O'Brien, the rescue team intensified their search by requesting aerial support from Kirtland.

The 58 SOW at Kirtland received the call for assistance in the late evening of June 26, 2023, and was wheels up by 7 a.m.

After a short flight over to Colorado, the search began. The crew was comprised of four Pararescuemen (PJs) and 11 aircrew from the 351st Special Warfare Training Squadron and the 512th Rescue Squadron.

The Airmen have been assisting in the search day and night for two days using a pair of HH-60W Jolly Green II aircraft, which is specifically designed for combat search and rescue missions and has more power and resources available than older aircraft in the Air Force inventory.


According to Lockheed Martin, the HH-60W Jolly Green II adds capability advancements to better support the full range of combat rescue and other special missions, it also meets long-range and high threat requirements for the U.S. Air Force.