03 January 2006

Welcome Home 236th Medical Company Air Ambulance

Soldiers of the 236th Medical Company Air Ambulance spent a year evacauting and treating patients in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. They returned to Germany in late December. In this file photograph, an Iraqi man and son are being taken to get medical treatment. - Photo courtesy of 236th Medical Company Air Ambulance

Flying medical unit is back home at Landstuhl

They love to do their job, but doing it means a fellow servicemember is hurt somewhere beyond the horizon.

It’s a bittersweet task for soldiers with the 236th Medical Company Air Ambulance out of Landstuhl, Germany, who returned in December from a yearlong deployment supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

From January to December, members of the “Dust off” helicopter medical evacuation unit safely transported 996 patients during more than 3,000 hours of accident-free flying in their UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, officials said. Just as important, the company accomplished the mission without losing any of its own soldiers.

“It went well,” said Maj. Michael Breslin, company commander. “It was a very gratifying mission. That’s why we joined to be medevac. We want to help the soldiers, and we were able to do that as evidenced by the numbers.”

The life-saving flights — during which medics attend to the injured — are gratifying to Delgado, but he has a love-hate relationship with it.

Blackhawk Medevac Helo in Kirkuk - U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Christopher Gish

“If we’re flying, (it means) somebody’s hurt,” he said. “We do everything we can just to get out there and get them back. We love to fly, but hate to have to do it. I’d rather just be able get in, go fly a couple circles and know everybody’s OK, than knowing this might be somebody’s life on the line.”

The company’s battalion commander praised the soldiers for their service downrange, particularly for transporting nearly 1,000 patients.

“For many of those patients, they saved their lives outright,” said Lt. Col. Kyle D. Campbell, commander of the 421st Medical Evacuation Battalion. “Had the crew not been there, that soldier would have died — not in every case, certainly, but in many of those cases. But in every one of those cases, they reduced the suffering. If you’ve ever ridden in an ambulance or any other vehicle on a several-hour drive to health care, as opposed to a 20-minute flight, it makes a big difference.”

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