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Recovery of bodies
"Large ones like ours ... don't get tossed around so much. We can take a lot more turbulence," said McClure, a 24-year Army veteran.
Pool, 35, said clouds would suddenly engulf the helicopter during the two days of the recovery mission. "We had to back off and then come back in when the clouds passed," he said.
Because of the steep angle, McClure said, the nose of the helicopter was just 10 feet from the ridge while the tail wheel of the 64-foot Black Hawk was 200 feet above the slope of the mountain.
Lara said that he was required to accompany each member of the Kauai rescue squad down the hoist to the crash site, and that's why he made so many trips. Lara made 18 trips on Monday, while the other medic on the mission, Spc. David King, made 10 the following day.
Operating the winch, called the Penetrator, which has seats for two people, was Spc. Jason Clark, the helicopter's crew chief.
Two bodies were recovered on Monday, and two more Tuesday.
A fifth is believed to be trapped beneath the fuselage.
The UH-60 is one of nine maintained by the 68th Medical Company. Four were deployed to Afghanistan in March along with 65 members of the Wheeler unit.
Five were left at Wahiawa to help the Army maintain its commitment to Honolulu city officials to provide around-the-clock emergency medical evacuation services under a 30-year-old Military Assistance to Safety and Traffic program. There is always one UH-60 Black Hawk on the standby pad at Wheeler.
"This was a total team effort," said McClure, who has flown 200 MAST missions since 1994. "We all have to be communicating with each other -- from the pilots to the medics, crew chief and even the fire rescue people. It takes a coordinated effort."
For Lara and King, this also might have been their last MAST mission. They are scheduled to be rotated to Afghanistan in the near future.
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