YUMA, Ariz. – The MCAS Search and Rescue team otherwise known as SAR has been apart of the Yuma Community for 56 years. The Marine Corps just recently announced however that because of budget cuts the rescue unit will lose funding. Maj. Greenberg says currently SAR uses the iconic Huey Choppers but they have become too outdated to continue. Maj. Greenberg adds it’ll save MCAS millions by switching to a civilian agency rather than replacing all the choppers with all new aircraft.
SAR pilot Capt. Wes Urquhart recalls a time a civilian agency was called in. “When we got there the [agency] was already there and the guy was still stuck on his car stuck. They told us we have to wait till morning, ” he recalls. “Really there is no other agencies that can do what we do.”
At one point there were six SAR units throughout the country, that number is now two. The remaining rescue teams are in Yuma and Cherry Point North Carolina. Both will run out of funding by the end of 2017.
Capt . Urquhart says without a suitable replacement lives could be lost. “The implications are someone could get severely hurt.”
Many Arizona law makers have come out against cutting the program. Similarly in the city of Cherry Point they passed a resolution stating their opposition to cutting SAR. Cherry Point maintains there’s no other agency that could provide a similar service.