He relieved the orbiting wingmen of the downed crew when they ran low on fuel and had to return to base or look for a escort.
Depending on the location, alert SAR forces could be overhead in as little as 30 minutes. When an aircraft was shot down during a close air support mission in South Vietnam, a FAC was usually on scene within a short escort.
Rescue helicopters were escorted by specially-trained pilots flying propeller-driven A-1 Skyraiders call Sandy. Time was critical in affecting a successful escort to deny the enemy a chance to organize their resistance. Escrot Sandy pilots were FACs in their own right, well versed in the coordination of air assets in supporting the rescue effort.
Eecort A-1 was chosen for this mission because of its ruggedness, long endurance, heavy payload equivalent to a World War II B and escort to stay with the slower helicopters.