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A re-edited version of the 1985 documentary The Guardian Angel is in post production. The original documentary focused upon the efforts to rescue Captain Lynn Aikman a downed U.S. Air Force pilot along the North Vietnamese/Laotian border in late June of 1972. The expanded version of the Guardian Angel goes into further detail not only about the rescue of Aikman, but also about the history and traditions of the U.S. Air Force's Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service. "The story behind The Guardian Angel is quite literally an epic."said producer/director Kevin O'Rourke. "With close to 50 aircraft called into support this rescue mission, the hillsides teeming with several hundred North Vietnamese militia attempting to capture an injured Aikman and rescue helicopters nearly shot out of the sky, it's one helluva story," says O'Rourke. The Guardian Angel is the basis for a book, made-for-tv/theatrical motion picture and television series currently under development.
PITSA1C William Pitsenbarger
Airman First Class William Pitsenbarger was a 21 year old Pararescueman who's actions under fire on April 11, 1966 while treating wounded from the 1st Infantry Division which was locked in a vicious firefight with the Viet Cong set an example for those on the Aikman rescue mission. An example that each would have to risk all to live up to. (lick on left image for Pitsenbarger's MOH Citation and on the right for a video clip about the rescue on Aprill 11th 1966.)

McGrathCaptain Lynn Aikman

Captain Lynn Aikman had survived the crash of his F-4E but was grievously injured. While ejecting from his flaming aircraft Aikman had broken his jaw, right arm and leg, and had dislocated his left knee. He had landed unconscious in the jungle along the North Vietnam - Laotian border. If captured Aikman would surely die from his injuries. It would be up to McGrath and the crew of his rescue helicopter to get Aikman out before the North Vietnamese found him. (Click on right image for Aikman's's video clip about ejecting from his aircraft.)

AikmanCaptain Dale Stovall

Captain Dale Stovall, the pilot of the HH-53 that picked up McGrath and Aikman had previously been awarded the Air Force Cross for his daring rescue of Captain Roger Locker. Stovall led a rescue mission, which was the deepest penetration into North Vietnam airspace by US rescue forces, to retrieve Locker. Locker was a renowned air combat tactician and would have been a prized POW. (Click on left image for Stovall's AFC Citation and on the right for a video clip about the rescue.)

StovallSgt. Chuck McGrath

Sergeant Chuck McGrath was the Senior Pararescueman (PJ) onboard the lead rescue helicopters that day. He knew how it felt to be shot down. Several months earlier he had survived the crash of his helicopter in northern Laos. By all rights McGrath should not have been on this operation. His tour in Southeast Asia had been up six weeks earlier. He had extended his tour so that he and his wife e Candy a medic also stationed in Thailand could come home together. (Click on left image for McGrath's AFC Citation and on the right for a video clip about the rescue.)


RufusLt. Rufus Hutchinson

Lieutenant Rufus Hutchinson was the 40th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron (ARRS) "newbie", its newest pilot. This would be his second Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR). As the Co-pilot Hutchinson directed the A-1 Sany's covering fire as the Jolly Green Giant helicopter hovered over the rescue site. Hutchinson would have an up close and personal view as a North Vietnamese Militiaman took aim at and fired directly at the rescue helicopter. (Click on right image for Hutchinson's video clip about the rescue.)
HardingMajor Jim Harding
Major Jim Harding the commanding officer of the A-1 (Sandy) squadron that provided McGrath with close air support received the Air Force Cross for action several months earlier providing cover fire for another rescue mission. On another occasion both Harding and his wingman’s aircraft were hit by enemy fire requiring them to bail out. Upon landing, while Harding was getting out of his chute, he was confronted by a Pathet Loa militia man armed with an AK-47. He shot him with his pistol, picked up the AK-47, headed down a trail, shot another militia man, and then established radio contact for a rescue pick up for both his wingman and himself. (Click on left image for Harding's AFC Citation and on the right for n video clip about flying cover for the mission.)

RitchieCaptain Steve Ritchie

As Stovall’s rescue helicopter, with McGrath and Aikman onboard, proceeded west out the area, North Vietnamese MIGs began tracking them. Captain Steve Ritchie, the USAF’s leading Ace of the Vietnam War and a receiptant of the Air Force Cross, heard the MIG alarm over the radio traffic. He turned his aircraft around, and then broadcast in the clear his intention to confront the approaching MIGs. He did this despite the fact that he had virtually no fuel left onboard his F-4E. Ritchie’s bluff worked and the MIGs withdrew. (Click on left image for Ritchie's AFC Citation and hear Stovall talk about his actions.)

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