CAMP DWYER, AFGHANISTAN
CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan - The rotor blades of an HH-60 Medical Evacuation helicopter beat against the air as it reached the destination of the emergency request. The MEDEVAC helicopter passed over a U.S. Marine who had lost a leg due to an improvised explosive device. Mud climbed up the landing gear as the helicopter touched down. Immediately, Sgt. Cliff Aughe, a flight medic with C Company, 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment, New Mexico National Guard, exited the aircraft and made his way through 100 meters of knee-deep mud to the wounded Marine.
With the help of the Marine squad, Aughe dragged the patient back through the mud to the helicopter for transportation. After the MEDEVAC began its journey to the nearest medical facility, Aughe, covered in mud, began treating the Marine. Aughe stabilized and continually comforted him throughout the flight.
This mission, along with other qualities and actions from June 27, 2011 to December 2011, distinguished Aughe over other candidates for being awarded the 2011 Army Aviation Association of America Rodney J.T. Yano Army Aviation Non-commissioned Officer of the Year Award.
“It’s a humbling experience to be nominated from these guys here at the unit, I can’t put it into words,” said Aughe, a native from Pueblo, Colo.
Within his first 90 days in Afghanistan, Aughe flew more than 150 combat missions as a MEDEVAC crew member in the Helmand province of Afghanistan.
“From the moment he got to the unit, he was willing to help and teach anyone at any given moment,” said Sgt. Heath Petty, a flight medic with Aughe in C Company, 1-171st AVN. “He always puts the mission first and sets the example in every action he does.”
Aughe has been involved in a large number of severe life-threatening injuries during MEDEVAC operations. These injuries range from gun-shot wounds to multiple amputations. For each mission he rose to the challenge, calmly administering the best medical care possible to U.S. Marines, soldiers, Afghan National Army soldiers, local Afghan civilians and Taliban fighters under difficult combat circumstances.
Another aspect of Aughe is his willingness to train, mentor and lead junior soldiers at any given moment. When soldiers from the three states making up C Company, 1-171st AVN arrived at Fort Hood, Texas, for post-mobilization training, Aughe set up and conducted training for the 23 other medics in C Company.
“I remember one night at [Fort] Hood,” as Petty recalled a story of Aughe. “We were on guard duty. In the middle of the shift, he gave me a quick cardiac symptoms and treatment class so we could stay sharp on our skills. He is always taking time out of his day to help fellow soldiers and keep them fresh on key tasks in our job.”
With a humble approach to any task he tackles, his medical background, expertise, and obvious desire to make every soldier better for the good of the mission have earned him the respect of soldiers of all ranks.
According to Maj. Christopher Holland, commander of C Company, 1-171st AVN, Aughe exemplifies every one of the Army Values and stresses that the primary role of the NCO is to ensure the “…accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my soldiers.”
Aughe draws on decades of medic experience after joining the Army in 1981 as a combat engineer with the 82nd Airborne Division where he took part in the invasion of Grenada, Operation Urgent Fury, in 1982; he began a career as a civilian paramedic in 1985.
In 1994, he earned a degree in nursing and worked in a hospital until 2001 where he began his career as a civilian flight nurse. Aughe then volunteered his time and services to work at “Ground Zero” after the Sept. 11, 2011 attacks as a health care provider.
Then in 2006, he enlisted in the Colorado Army National Guard as a medic and deployed the following year to Iraq. He returned from Iraq and transferred to C Company, 1-171st and deployed with them to Afghanistan in June 2011.
“All of what I do wouldn’t be possible without all the support of my family, mentors from the unit and others I have received guidance from,” said the native from Pueblo, Colo. “I don’t feel that I went above and beyond, I just show up to do my job and save people. All I can say is, if someone else gets to go home alive at the end of the day, then I am doing my job.”
||CAMP DWYER, AF
||FORT CARSON, CO, US
||FORT SAM HOUSTON, TX, US
||PUEBLO, CO, US
||SANTA FE, NM, US
||WAHIAWA, HI, US
This work, New Mexico National Guard NCO named AAAA Rodney J.T. Yano NCO of the Year, by SGT Daniel Schroeder, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.