Additional Statementsby Former Senator Mark Begich
Posted on 2013-03-11
BEGICH. Madam President, today I would like to recognize
retired LTC Dave Hoffman for his outstanding service to the United
States Air Force as a search and rescue helicopter pilot. Mr. Hoffman
journeyed to Alaska in the 1970s to fly helicopters in the 71st
Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, ARRS, an Air Force Unit that
performed search and rescue for both civilians and military members in
At that time, a United States Air Force air rescue unit was considered top notch if they logged two or more ``saves'' in a year. The 71st ARRS that Dave Hoffman flew for logged over 90 saves in 1978. With temperatures dipping to 30 degrees below zero, the pilots of the 71st were often on their own in the Alaskan wilderness for days, putting their own lives at risk to save the lives of others.
After his service in the USAF, Dave joined the Alaska Army National Guard, assisting his unit in countless saves. When the Air Force decided to deactivate the 71st ARRS, legislation was introduced that created the 210th Rescue Squadron, RQS, in the Alaska Air National Guard at Kulis Air National Guard Base in Anchorage, AK. Initially, as a cadre instructor pilot and later as first commander of Detachment 1, Dave Hoffman continued the tradition of greatness. By 1996, the 210th RQS had saved a record 310 lives and held the record for both the highest altitude rescue, 14,400 ft., and the furthest rescue, 2037 miles, in an HH-60G helicopter.
In the fall of 1991, then Major Hoffman participated in a rescue effort less than 400 nautical miles from the North Pole where a Canadian C-130 crashed. Flying night and day for over 3 days, Dave Hoffman's ability to persevere under the worst conditions resulted in saving 13 lives while managing to return all rescuers and assets unharmed. This mission earned him the Air Medal.
In 1993, he was involved in the first military exercise teaming Russian and American forces on Russian soil. Lieutenant Colonel Hoffman flew with such precision during an aerial refueling that Russian General Kalugin was convinced an automated mechanism had performed the feat. When it was proven that Dave Hoffman had, in fact, piloted the helicopter, the Russian general presented him with a medal for ``superior airmanship.'' Although Dave Hoffman is one of the best rescue and recovery pilots, his personality outshines his technical ability. After a rough landing, Dave is known to flash his famous smile and say, ``You know, my dashing young lieutenant, if you aren't so hard on the equipment it'll last longer.'' His loyalty to the guard and to the men and women he served with has touched all who know him.
Many recall a man who is always calm, sincere, honest, and has a great joy for life. Those who had the pleasure of flying with Dave, affectionately called ``Hoff-person'' and ``King Biscuit,'' are not shy about the respect, admiration and love that they have for the man. Whether he was saving lives or sharing in them, he left a lasting glow within the recipients. On this day, I would like to honor Mr. Dave Hoffman and thank him for his service to this country, to Alaska, and to so many who are lucky enough to know him.