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June 18, 2014
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U.S. military donates armored vehicle to local law enforcement

It’s called Rescue II. It’s the biggest new gear for Eagle County’s Special Operations Unit, and you can thank Uncle Sam for it.

It’s a mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle (MRAP), and it was a gift to local law enforcement from the U.S. military. As the war in Afghanistan winds down, the MRAPs are sent back to this country, refurbished and donated to local law enforcement agencies.

They cost between $733,000 and $780,000 new. This one didn’t cost the taxpayers of Eagle County one thin dime. It came compliments of the U.S. military with everything but a bow. They even threw in six new run-flat extra tires that cost about $4,000 each.

This one, 58,000 pounds of pure armored glory, came to the county’s Special Ops Unit because, it turns out, they might need it.

“We know why we would need it, but we hope we never have to use it,” said Joe Hoy, Eagle County sheriff. “If we have to roll this thing out, the (flotsam) has hit the fan.”

This one was built in 2012, so it’s relatively new as surplus military gear goes.

Nothing pierces this thing, not even barbs from your ex-spouse’s lawyer. The doors weigh 1,000 pounds each. They lock from the inside to keep the enemy out and close hydraulically with enough torque to leave your leg in a compound fracture, says Lt. Greg Daly, of the Avon Police Department and the Eagle County Special Operations Unit.

The Special Operations Unit is comprised of officers from Vail, Avon, Eagle, the Sheriff’s Office, the Eagle County Ambulance District and a couple doctors along to help put people back together — doctors Barry Hammaker and Reg Francoise.

The Eagle County Special Operations Unit is a multi-agency unit tasked with handling high-risk law enforcement incidents in Eagle County municipalities and within the 1,600 square miles of unincorporated Eagle County.

Rescue II is for “God forbid” scenarios, Daly said.

Sometimes, though, God does not forbid. Just this year, the Special Operations Unit has dealt with active shooters, barricaded suspects, hostage rescue, dignitary protection and manhunts for homicide suspects. Last month, the Special Operations Unit handled an eight-hour standoff with a barricaded suspect in Avon. The event was resolved with the safe arrest of the suspect.

More than anything else, the Eagle County Special Operations Unit is a lifesaving unit, Daly said. There are 24 assigned operators, snipers and medical personnel.

Ryan Hinson is a Marine veteran and served as a wheeled mechanic in Afghanistan.

Wheeled mechanics fix anything with wheels. Track mechanics fix anything with tracks. Hinson will handle most of the Rescue II maintenance.

Hinson went overseas in 2008 and worked in the Marines as a convoy mechanic. That means he rode in lines of these trucks and when something broke he had to get out and fix it.

That’s a MRAP

Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles are armored fighting vehicles used by various armed forces. Their designed purpose is surviving improvised explosive device attacks and ambushes.

In June 2008, USA Today reported that roadside bomb attacks and fatalities were down almost 90 percent partially due to MRAPs.

“They’ve taken hits, many, many hits that would have killed soldiers and Marines in unarmored Humvees,” Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the newspaper.

On the other hand, MRAPs forced insurgents to build bigger, more sophisticated bombs to knock out the vehicles, said Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, who commanded a division in Baghdad.

Safety vehicle

The top came from Afghanistan, where it saw lots and lots of action. The chassis, engine and drive train are brand new. The Caterpillar engine generates more than 500 horsepower and carries a two-year warranty.

The body doesn’t show any wear, except for some spots inside where the Afghan sand rubbed the paint off the floor under soldiers’ combat boots.

Currently, the Special Operations Unit team has an Eagle County Sheriff Chevrolet Suburban that carries tactical equipment and a decommissioned ambulance used for medical support. Both are maintained by Eagle County’s shops. The team also has a small Peacekeeper armored rescue vehicle that was transferred from Jefferson County.

The Peacekeeper is only rated to defend against a .762 ball ammo round, but not a .308 caliber round. The Peacekeeper is being maintained in Avon’s town shops.

Rescue II was manufactured by BAE Systems. When it came back from Afghanistan, the vehicle was refurbished at the BAE Systems factory in Sealy, Texas.

“The vehicle was delivered with additional armor that will offer even better protection to the citizens and police officers who may be inside of it,” Daly said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

“If we have to roll this thing out, the (flotsam) has hit the fan.”
Joe Hoy
Eagle County sheriff


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The VailDaily Updated Jun 23, 2014 04:14PM Published Jun 18, 2014 03:00PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.