by SrA Maeson Elleman

U.S. Air Force Maj. Matthew McGuinness, 31st Rescue Squadron director of operations, pops a flare to signal a HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter where to land during Cope Angel 12 in Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 5, 2011. The 33rd and 31st Rescue Squadrons paired up with partners from the Japan Air Self Defense Force during Cope Angel to train on water and land rescue and triage tactics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Maeson L. Elleman/Released)

Photographer's Narrative


During an exercise called Cope Angel on the beaches of an island off the coast of Okinawa, the 31st and 33rd Rescue Squadrons were practicing life-saving techniques with their counterparts from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force. The red smoke they used to signal the helicopters stands out from all the other aspects of the scene, as it is a key component of communication between those on the ground, those in the sky and bridges language barriers.