Wisniewski Chapel dedication

  • Published
  • By Chaplain (Capt.) Kristin D. Swenson
  • Diyarbakir Air Base

The chapel at Diyarbakir Air Base was dedicated in honor of Capt. David A. “Wiz” Wisniewski, an HH-60 Pave Hawk pilot, March 28.

It has become a tradition in the rescue community to name new bases of operation after those who have lost their lives in service of others, “doing these things we do that others may live.”

When Diyarbakir AB was stood up in 2015, it was named Camp Wisniewski in honor and memory of Wisniewski, along with four members of his crew: 1st Lt. Joel Gentz, Tech. Sgt. Michael Flores, Staff Sgt. David Smith and Senior Airman Benjamin White. The crew died from injuries sustained when their Pave Hawk, call sign: Pedro 66, was shot down in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, June 9, 2010, while performing a rescue mission for a wounded British marine in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

As a way to uplift the heritage of Camp Wisniewski, help connect Airmen who serve here to their rescue mission and to honor Wisniewski and the crew of Pedro 66, it was decided to name the chapel after him and paint a memorial wall for him and the crew. A team of over 26 volunteer Airmen from both the 720th Expeditionary AB Squadron and 1st Expeditionary Rescue Group came together over a four-week period to design and paint the memorial wall and main “Wisniewski Chapel” murals.

Once completed, a chapel dedication ceremony took place March 28, led by Chaplain (Capt.) Kristin Swenson, featuring Lt. Col. Chris Richardson, 64th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron commander and Master Sgt. Eric Barker, 64th ERQS, both of whom flew with, and knew, Wisniewski and the crew of Pedro 66 personally. They shared their stories of their connections to the crew of Pedro 66 as well as Wisniewski’s heroic actions to pilot his aircraft after being hit, avoiding a nearby dining facility full of Marines, saving even more lives.

“They lived their lives by our creed: ‘These Things We Do, That Others May Live,’” said Richardson. “They gave their lives for our creed,”

Remarks were also given by Maj. Ross Dotzlaf, 720th EABS commander, and Col. Stephen Moyes, 1st ERQG commander.

Wisniewski demonstrated selfless service and sacrifice, and as a man of faith, he demonstrated the importance of spirituality in guiding and sustaining the warrior’s spirit.

“I hope the dedicated chapel will serve as a daily reminder to the whole camp why we’re here as well as honor the sacrifice made by Capt. Wisniewski and his crew,” said Moyes. “Our team, the 1st ERQG and 720th EABS, hosted by our Turkish allies, are here to return personnel to friendly control and deny our adversaries the ability to exploit them. I'm humbled to be a part of this mission and proud to carry on in the tradition of our Rescue fallen.”

Wisniewski Chapel provides a place for Airmen to grow spiritually, be encouraged and uplifted as they support the rescue mission at Diyarbakir AB, doing these things we do, that others may live.