Unit Details

Garrison - Test
1958 - 1986

Large portions of the Test Group's mission were classified until 1995 when information concerning Project CORONA was declassified. The 6594th was largely concerned with retrieving film canisters, about the size of a garbage can, in midair that had been ejected from some of the United States' earliest spy satellites.

These canisters were among the first objects sent into space that were designed to survive re-entry. Upon entering the ionosphere, they could resemble a shooting, or falling, star. Thus, the unit's motto "To Catch a Falling Star".

Because retrieval occurred over water in the Pacific, rescue swimmers were a standard part of the mission crew. Thus, when the 6594th was not busy with their primary mission, they were often available to support the US Coast Guard and other agencies in Search and Rescue (SAR) missions. The 6594th Test Group had one of the best records for open water rescues in the U.S. Air Force.

Unit Videos 

78 Members Who Served in This Unit


  • Millard, Paul, SSgt, (1985-1995)
  • Munns, John, SMSgt, (1959-1986)
  • Nailon, Jaimie, Sgt, (1984-1988)
  • Nathan, Douglas, SSgt, (1978-1998)
  • Norelius, James, Lt Col, (1967-1988)
  • Nybakken, Scott, TSgt, (1982-2007)
  • Ossowski, Jude, SrA, (1974-1984)
  • Phillips, Jimmie, TSgt, (1969-1992)
  • Pittman, Terry, Sgt, (1981-1987)
  • Ragland, Richard, TSgt, (1974-1995)
  • Roberts, Gary, TSgt, (1965-1985)
  • Rooney, John, SSgt, (1977-1987)
  • Rosta, Terry, CMSgt, (1976-2004)
  • Ryan, Larry, SSgt, (1973-1985)
  • Schmelzer, David, 1stSgt, (1973-1993)
  • Shaff, David, MSgt, (1972-1995)
  • Shurtz, Richard, MSgt, (1968-1988)
  • Smith, David, MSgt, (1966-1986)
  • St Clair, William, MSgt, (1974-2012)
  • Stephens, Malcolm, SSgt, (1972-1981)
  • Sullivan, Leonard, CMSgt, (1973-2000)
  • Tolzmann, Paul, MSgt, (1973-1994)
  • Tomblin, Gary, SSgt, (1980-1989)
  • Van Meter, Micheal, MSgt, (1976-1997)
  • Vance, William G, Maj, (1966-1987)
  • Ventura, Juan, TSgt, (1969-1990)
  • Wingertsahn, Lawrence, Maj, (1973-1996)

Unit Citations - Display as Table
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Unit History
Battle/Operations History
Unit Timeline
The 6594th Test Group was inactivated
At the time of inactivation, Test Group's aircraft complement consisted of: 7 JC-130B 3 JC-130H 5 HH-53C 3 HC-130P
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1985 helicopter crash
On 15 January 1985 an HH-53 helicopter, call sign Arris 01, from the 6594th Test Group crashed while attempting a shipboard rescue mission 544 miles northwest of Honolulu. All seven crew members were ... More
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The 6594th Test Group was established in 1958
The 6594th Test Group was established in 1958 to support U.S. Air Force Systems Command missile and space development operations in the Western Pacific area. It also provided support to the U.S. Coast ... More
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