News: ‘Stealing from the Reaper’
Story by Sgt. Daniel Schroeder
CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan - “Medevac, medevac, medevac” comes over the radio as flight crews from Company C, 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment, New Mexico National Guard run out to a UH-60 Black Hawk, start it up and take to the skies in response to a request for medical evacuation.
The standard for medevac missions are to launch the aircraft in 15 minutes and to get the patient to a medical facility within one hour. According to Lt. Col. Christopher Holland, C 1-171 commander, the unit had a 99.9 percent success rate of achieving the standard.
Over the past 12 months, soldiers of C/1-171 located at Camp Dwyer, Forward Operating Base Edinburgh, Paine and Delaram have completed more than 1,400 missions, treated more than 1,800 patients and flew a cumulative total of more than 3,900 flight hours from across the four locations.
“The crew chiefs and medics did extraordinary work during the course of the deployment,” said Staff Sgt. Chuck McGould, the Operations non-commissioned officer in charge, a resident of Tuscan, Ariz. “The ability of these soldiers to be flexible to any changes, such as geographical separation, injuries seen and weather conditions, when accomplishing the mission was one of the most valuable qualities of the unit.”
In addition to treating American service members, the medics also tended to International Security Assistance Forces partners and Afghan National Security Forces as well as Afghan civilians of all ages.
Some of those calls left long lasting memories on the soldiers of C/1-171 long after missions were complete.
“I remember two medevac calls we got when I was on shift,” started Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Moya, a flight medic and a native of Valencia County, N.M. “We responded to the call of a 7-year-old local Afghan girl who had been burned by oil and a 5-year-old boy with a head injury. The innocence of the children, being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, causes the memory stick with you.”
The soldiers of C 1-171 come from different regions of the U.S. allowing them to bring different experiences and knowledge to the team. Their careers, ranging from a curriculum implementation school administrator to a sales manager for a tool company, brought diverse knowledge to the team as well.
“With all the diverse backgrounds and skills of the soldiers in the unit, it is possible to find someone that has some knowledge about anything,” said Holland.
Even though the soldiers have diverse backgrounds and came from different areas, they put aside those differences and come together as a team to accomplish the mission.
“This unit has great cohesiveness considering we are from New Mexico, Arizona, and Minnesota,” said Moya. “Everyone here knows the success of the mission is a team effort. Everyone helps one another, doesn’t let anyone fall behind, and makes sure everyone stays up to standard on everything.”
The soldiers showed dedication to the medevac mission by continuing to stay on top of maintaining the aircraft, equipment, and themselves.
“Our mission out here is all about the Marine, troop, or person on the battlefield,” said Holland. “When the crews react to a mission, they go by the motto ‘we will be there and be there fast.’ They have done a great job of getting the job done each and every time.”
With the last 12 months of medevac missions conducted, soldiers of C 1-171 can return to their families and friends back in the states knowing they gave all they had helping those in need and living up to the unit motto, “Stealing from the Reaper.”