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    North Carolina Air National Guardsmen Show Humbling Spirit By Tech. Sgt. Laura Tickle 145th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

    North Carolina Air National Guardsmen Show Humbling Spirit

    Photo By Tech. Sgt. Laura Tickle | Courtesy Photo by Tech. Sgt. Alejandro Armendariz... read more read more

    “Brace for landing,” echoed through the cabin of a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft while it descended into Germany on Dec. 25th, 2022, as members of the 156th Airlift Squadron and Brooke Army Medical Center team rushed to the aid of a young baby suffering a low heart rate and oxygen saturation.

    “We were originally tasked for this mission because the NCANG has the Aeromedical Evacuation Channel right now where we send crews out to do medical evacuation missions and our channel runs about four months,” states U.S. Air Force Pilot, Capt. Barry Plemmons, 156th Airlift Squadron.

    The aeromedical evacuation channel rotates between units across the globe providing humanitarian missions by Air Force and affiliated military services.

    “The particulars of this mission are rare with a neonatal patient; with that said though, the patient movement is something close to my heart and a favorite mission we do,” explained Plemmons. “What we do is take someone that is physically or mentally wounded from a place they shouldn’t be to a better standard of care and get them the help and treatment they need.”

    Members of the North Carolina Air National Guard answered the call, for this mission, to work with medical teams across the world, including but not limited to, Andrews, Ramstein, Dover, and Scott Air Force Base, as well as Brooke Army Medical Center, Joint Base San Antonio, TX.

    “We were scheduled for 21-29 Dec. for our rotation; we picked up the baby Christmas Day in Kuwait and delivered her to Germany in the same day,” explained Crew Chief, Tech. Sgt. Alejandro Armendariz, 145th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

    The timing of the mission met unseemly circumstances in regards to weather as the nation was rocked with severe cold weather including snow and ice.

    “The day we left, it was the big storm that came through and at the time of de-icing, it was minus 5 degrees with windchill; I was outside for nearly four hours de-icing and refueling, the aircraft,” said Armendariz. “There was a point I couldn’t feel my fingers or cheeks, but it was well worth it to put my body through that to get the baby to a hospital.”

    During the journey to get to the infant the crew faced many challenges that were quickly resolved due to continuous training and expertise.

    “We faced a lot of adversity throughout our mission and this crew was the only reason we were able to get the baby out of Kuwait and into Germany,” explained Brooke Army Medical Center Doctor, U.S. Army Maj. Jeanne Krick, consultant to the Surgeon Genera-Medical Ethics. “Once we did have the baby on board, our equipment suffered a malfunction and members of the AE (air evacuation) crew helped us troubleshoot the equipment to figure out the issue— being that we could not plug in to aircraft power, but after huddling, we decided the best course of action was to proceed to Germany with the team providing support along the way. They also helped the AE (air evacuation) crew communicate with the personnel on the ground in Germany to deliver us necessary equipment to be able to continue the mission.”

    “During the final descent into Germany, the infant began to experience a common medical incident for premature infants, and because we were about to land and my team was strapped in and unable to intervene as quickly as usual. At about 1,000 feet, the infants vital signs dropped to the point where my team could no longer not intervene without risking her life. The team and pilots understood how dire the situation was as we unbuckled and responded; members of the AE (air evacuation) crew rushed to help brace us in place for landing while the pilots did everything they could to ensure a quick and safe landing. As soon as we landed, members of the crew ran to the back of the aircraft to get the ramp dropped as quickly as possible, while the pilots communicated with ground crew to get EMS on board as quickly as possible. We were able to intervene as needed and bring the babys’ vital signs back to normal ranges. As of now, she’s actually been weened down on her respiratory needs; she’s doing really well.”

    Despite the challenges met and faced, the mission was completed with a sense of urgency and understanding while maintaining safety for crews and patient.

    “All-in-all, I truly cannot say enough wonderful things about this team, everyone showed amazing dedication to the mission and to the safety of the entire team and passengers,” expressed Krick. “They truly did treat us like one of their own and literally saved both our lives and the life of our patient.”

    Life-saving skills, with flights to and fro, weren’t the only thing our North Carolina Air National Guardsmen provided.

    “Every mission I go on I take my daughters stuffed plushie, and we went to the store to buy a stocking to hang it in,” said Armendariz. “Usually on a mission I’ll bring a flag with me and give it to someone but on this particular mission, our team signed the stocking and left it with the baby so she’ll have something to remember us by.”

    With more than 15,000 miles travelled in such a short period of time, a footprint was sure to be left in the hearts of all the crew members who aided in this mission.

    “One of the things that I like about being with Airlift is we’re able to do certain humanitarian missions,” stated Armendariz, “but this mission, by far, surpasses that—to be part of a team that saved a babys’ life.”



    Date Taken: 01.08.2023
    Date Posted: 01.08.2023 15:39
    Story ID: 436417
    Location: CHARLOTTE, NC, US 

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