PEDRO call sign


These pages are an attempt to have an overview of the use of the Call Sign "PEDRO" by the USAF HH-43 crews worldwide


The origin of the “Pedro” call-sign comes from Rescue missions during the Korean War.  In the book  "Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service, 1946 - 1981, An Illustrated Chronology," by Donald D. Little [1983]  (Office of MAC History, Military Airlift Command, USAF, Scott AFB, IL 62225)  a Rescue Mission is described, dated 12 Apr 1953 in Korea, using the call-signs “Pedro 1” and “Pedro 2”. 

The first known use of the “Pedro” call-sign in CONUS was during late November 1964, when two HH-43B from Det.9, WARC at Portland IAP, OR and one Huskie from Det.5, WARC at McChord AFB, WA evacuated more than 175 persons in the flood-stricken Pacific Northwest. “Pedro 1”, “Pedro 2” and “Pedro 3” were flown by some of the crewmembers who were sent TDY to set up the Detachment at Udorn AB, Thailand in May 1965. It may therefor be quite possible that these crewmembers introduced the idea to use “Pedro” as permanent call-sign for the HH-43 in SEA.

The first known use of the “Pedro” call-sign in the SEA War is dated 28 October 1965 and this was during a mission executed by two HH-43F assigned to Det.5, 38ARS (Udorn AB, Thailand), but  launched from NKP. 

Before this date HH-43 aircraft operating in SEA were given call-signs which would change every seven to ten days. They were classified AFSAL call signs (Armed Forces Security Agency List). Each helicopter would carry a permanent two-digit number. For instance “21” and “22”  for HH-43B 60-0279 and 60-0280 (when based at NKP during 1965). (Source : Capt. Joe Ballinger, Det.Co. at NKP - DET.1, 38ARS - information published on pages of the website "USAF Rotorheads"). During this timeframe call-signs like "Alban 21"  and  “Rescue 44” in SEA  or “Firebird 1”  elsewhere, were used.

December 1965

The exact date is unknown, but certainly during early December 1965 the “Pedro” call-sign was permanently (not changing every 7-10 days) issued to all HH-43 aircraft in SEA with fixed two-digit numbers issued to each Huskie in theatre and running from 01 up to 99.

The following separte overviews are available :

PEDRO Call Sign    SEA -  Vietnam and Thailand

PEDRO  Call Sign   PACIFIC Air Rescue& Recovery Center (outside Vietnam-Thailand)    

PEDRO Call Sign   ATLANTIC Air Rescue& Recovery Center   



As a side note :  PEDRO was also used by the US Navy at some time , proved by a report in Kaman Rotor Tips issue Sep-Oct 1973,page 37 :  the SAR Alert from NAS Whiting Field, FL launched a Kaman UH-2C Seasprite with call-sign "Pedro 163" after a T-28 crashed.


last update 17/05/2021