by Master Sgt. Luke Johnson
943rd Rescue Group Public Affairs
4/30/2013 - DAVIS MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Over
the weekend, the 943rd Rescue Group memorialized the life of a fallen
pararescueman who was killed in Afghanistan on April 6, 2013 while
performing civilian duties as security contractor.
The memorial included family and friend of Chief Master Sgt. Nicholas L.
McCaskill, 306th Rescue Squadron PJ. They recalled his life as a
dedicated pararesuceman, mentor to junior rescue Airmen and a devoted
"This memorial speaks volumes for the leadership and impact that Chief
Master Sgt. Nick McCaskill had on those who knew him," said Col. Harold
Maxwell, 943rd RQG Commander. "Those who served with Nick loved him and
respected him, and he was a role model to the younger Airmen that wanted
to be like him."
"He mentored them and inspired them; he was an outstanding example of
what a senior non-commissioned officer should be," said Maxwell.
The memorial included his induction into the rank of chief master
sergeant which was earned on February 1, 2013, and also the presentation
of the meritorious service medal.
"Nick was a humble man," said Lt. Col. John Keeler, 306th RQS. "His
actions and his life focused on saving lives and building his team, and
not the decorations that he received."
Nicholas L. McCaskill was born in Pomona, Calif. on January 5, 1972. He
spent most of his childhood in Long Beach, Calif. then moved to San
Clemente, Calif. where he graduated high school.
In May of 1992, McCaskill entered the Air Force as a structural
maintenance specialist. After completing technical school he was
assigned to Nellis AFB, Nev., where he worked on jet air craft and
helicopters to include the F-4 Phantom, F-15 Eagle, F-16 Falcon, A-10
Warthog aircraft and HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters.
In October 1994, he entered the two-year pararescue indoctrination
pipeline, and in November of 1996 McCaskill was assigned to the 66th
Rescue Squadron at Nellis AFB to begin his career as a pararescueman.
In 2001, Chief McCaskill's next assignment was the 320th Special Tactics
Squadron, 353rd Special Operations Group, Kadena Air Base, Japan. While
assigned as a special tactics pararescueman, he deployed to the
Philippines where he augmented the 1st Special Forces Group Theater
Quick Reaction Force. McCaskill provided vital combat-search-and-rescue
expertise in direct support of a mission to rescue American hostages,
for which he was awarded the Joint Service Achievement Medal from the
commander of the U.S. Pacific Command.
In addition, he supported a maritime interdiction operation that led to
the elimination of the region's number one most-wanted terrorist. In
2003, the 353rd Special Operations Group recognized McCaskill as PJ of
the Year for "building the most capable team in the unit's history."
McCaskill joined the 48th Rescue Squadron in 2005. He deployed to
Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom
where he led 13 combat missions.
On one mission, McCaskill led a four-man rescue team to recover six U.S.
Army aircrew and four 10th Mountain Division soldiers killed in a CH-47
Chinook helicopter crash. This recovery required a three-hour overland
movement through hostile and hazardous mountainous terrain. While
exposed to extreme danger from hostile machine gun and rocket propelled
grenade fire, his team worked continuously for 24 hours taking sporadic
enemy fire to ensure that all 10 killed in action and all sensitive
items were recovered from the crash site.
"Nick skills leadership and persistence reduced a seven day recovery
mission in to less than 48 hours, we all know how painful it would be to
wait seven days to find out the status of a loved one," said Keeler.
For his efforts on this mission, McCaskill was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
Later that year, McCaskill led a 14-man team in support of Hurricanes
Katrina and Rita relief. They were credited with 1200 saves.
In July of 2006, McCaskill became a reservist with the 306th RQS.
McCaskill led numerous NASA missions at Kennedy Space Center and
executed Guardian Angel exercises with ally countries in both Tajikistan
and the Philippines.
McCaskill served more 20 years in the U.S. Air Force to include 16 years
conducting rescue and special operations. He had 500 plus flight hours,
200 of which were during combat operations.
McCaskill leaves behind a wife and two daughters.