Airman serves community through local search, rescue team

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Colin Cates
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
During the week, one Team Holloman staff sergeant spends his time controlling and tracking all of Holloman's automated data processing equipment. During his off-duty time, Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Juarez, 49th Communications Squadron base assets manager, serves the local community as a volunteer for the New Mexico Search and Rescue.

According to its official website, the NMSAR is an all-volunteer organization that represents the largest group of wilderness search and rescue teams in New Mexico.

"I have been part of New Mexico Search and Rescue for about six months now," said Juarez. "I am the point of contact for the local detachment, and I also drive the truck mascot. My truck is all decked out with lights, sirens, a public address system, and a police scanner."

In addition to driving a decked-out truck, Juarez also gets to take advantage of the training opportunities NWSAR provides.

"Some of the training we do includes rappelling, map and GPS reading, Self Aid and Buddy Care, and basic radio communication, so we can talk to the local border control and other departments," said Juarez. "Another benefit to being part of this group is that I get to work with the state police department. I want to get into the drug enforcement administration after the Air Force and I think this experience can really benefit me."

Perhaps the best part of his job though, Juarez said, is when his training is put to use in the field.

"We recently had a mission to go to Von, New Mexico, to search for a 61-year old man who had gotten lost in the desert," said Juarez. "All of the local detachments were called in and we were able to find him within eight hours. It felt really good to be a part of something like that."

With summer coming up, the local NMSAR team can expect an increase in cases like the one mentioned above.

"A lot of people seem to get lost hiking the local area around White Sands and Dog Canyon, but we'll be there to help them," said Juarez. "We're really undermanned at the detachment here, but we have meetings for people who are interested in joining. At the meetings they can sign up to be called for missions."

For interested members of Team Holloman, joining the local NMSAR team is about more than accumulating volunteer hours.

"I have been at Holloman for five years, so this is not the only volunteer thing I'm currently doing, but I enjoy this the most," said Juarez. "This is a great way to give back, and it shows that we play an active role in this community."