The story behind SAR Mountain

Chief petty officer selectees and their mentors bundle up on SAR (Search and Rescue) Mountain on Dec. 7 to swap out the U.S. flag and place a memorial rock.

Chief petty officer selectees and their mentors bundle up on SAR (Search and Rescue) Mountain on Dec. 7 to swap out the U.S. flag and place a memorial rock. Courtesy of Jeffrey Roscoe

SAR (Search and Rescue) Mountain is what we call it, (and) on more official maps it’s named Eetz Mountain. It isn’t very tall in comparison to some of the surrounding peaks at only 4,390 feet, it can be easily missed. Looking at a satellite image, however, she stands out.
It has a rather flat and bare top with a large SAR written on the top, however there are some images that have the letters JAG (Judge Advocate General) instead of SAR, the product of a prank from a previous JAG here at the base.
The mountain was started well before anyone I have contacted can remember, so at least the 1990s. The Longhorn SAR Team has a flag pole on top as a memorial along with many different pieces from wreckages and rescues that the Longhorn SAR team from NAS Fallon has responded to throughout the decades here. We have also maintained the tradition of putting the names of our qualified duty standers here at the SAR team on top.
Over the last four years now, the Naval Air Station Fallon Chiefs Association has made a tradition of taking the new chief selectees to the top of SAR mountain and swapping out the flag, as well as placing a memorial rock. Each class has painted at least one rock as a memorial to a fallen brother or sister chief. This rock accompanies the class throughout their season and culminates in being carried to the top in a memorial hike and placed at the base of the flag pole in their honor.
The class conducted a hike up the mountain earlier in the season this year. They replaced the flag and then conducted a proper flag retirement ceremony with the help of the local Veterans of Foreign War Post 1002. The class kept the remains from the ceremony and carried it with them during their memorial hike at the end of the season to be buried on top of SAR mountain. This year’s selectees, in addition to bring their memorial their rock, carried another item. This year has taken a toll on many of the SAR family, and in recognition of that, the class also added a second memorial in remembrance for AOC Thacker, who died from coronavirus.
The class was pinned and, in culmination of their chief season, they have been added to the ranks of brothers and sisters who will carry this tradition into the future. As a gift on their pinning day, they received a framed star that the command master chief of the air station had removed from the flag prior to its retirement.
 AWSC Jeffrey Roscoe is chief petty officer with the Longhorn SAR Team

The star
The small picture frame with the star in it is a new tradition started a few years ago here at SAR Mountain to climb it to change out the U.S. flag each year with the selectees and many chiefs, many lessons are learned.
Why did I get one for the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1002)? The CPOA (Chief Petty Officers Association) approached me prior to the Dec. 7 Pearl Harbor Day ceremony and invited the VFW to attend. I attended for Post 1002. They properly retired the flag to teach the selectees another lesson, and the selectees organized the ceremony. I can't say enough about our community. They do it better today than when was initiated in 1980!
Retired Master Chief Petty Officer Michael Terry, Fallon



NAS Fallon Command Master Chief Jesse Cook, left, presents retired Chief Petty Officer Michael Terry of Fallon a star from a U.S. flag that flew at SAR Mountain during 2020. Steve Ranson/ LVN

 

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