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NEWS | Aug. 27, 2021

Colorado Army National Guard Aviation and partner receive award for daring alpine rescue

FOR RELEASE: Friday, Aug. 27, 2021

CONTACT: Colorado National Guard Public Affairs, 720-250-1053,

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – A crew from the Colorado Hoist Rescue Team, which included a Colorado Army National Guard aircrew and members of the Alpine Rescue Team, will receive the DUSTOFF Association’s Rescue of the Year award Aug. 28, 2021, in Columbus, Georgia.

COARNG Soldiers assisted the Alpine Rescue Team with a high-altitude hoist rescue of an injured hiker from Crestone Needle, a Colorado summit at more than 13,000 feet elevation, Sept. 19, 2020.

The crew members receiving the award are COARNG pilots U.S. Army Maj. Christopher Moskoff and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Greg White and Crew Chiefs U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Steven Leflar and Sgt. Jesse Bavendar, as well as Rescue Technicians Michael Griffin and Dale Atkins from the Alpine Rescue Team.

This is the first time that civilian rescue personnel are receiving the award.  

“The Colorado Hoist Rescue Team combines military hoist rescue capabilities developed for the warfight with civilian ground rescue expertise, and this saves lives,” Joint Task Force Centennial Commander U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Scott Sherman said.  “The Colorado National Guard is proud to be part of this innovative and adaptive partnership with first responders in our state.”

The CHRT, which specializes in high-angle, high-altitude mountain helicopter rescues, provides the state of Colorado with helicopter hoist capabilities, resulting in more than 25 mountain rescues each year.

The CHRT is comprised of four internationally-recognized civilian mountain rescue organizations and two COARNG helicopter flight facilities. 

Both the COARNG’s Army Aviation Support Facility at Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, and the High-Altitude Army National Guard Training Site in Gypsum have supported ground search and rescue teams in the state to locate and, if needed, evacuate patients from the high country to safety in a lower landing zone, where a civilian air or ground ambulance takes over transportation to a hospital. 

The DUSTOFF Rescue of the Year award, established in 1995, recognizes the current generation of DUSTOFF Warriors. The DUSTOFF executive council votes on award submissions.

Rescue-of-the-Year awards have traditionally been for combat missions, but some peacetime missions qualify to receive the award.

DUSTOFF is the informal name for medical evacuation by the Medical Service Corps during the Vietnam War.