14 January 2008

CJTF-82 Heroes of the Week

"Dustoff Three-Zero confirms 3 Heroes on board, 3 Heroes recovered... "

Combined Joint Task Force 82 (CJTF-82) would like to honor these unsung heroes as our heroes of the week. This is our thank you from the Joint Task Force for all the things they do to protect us on a daily basis, to include the professionalism, selfless service and dedication to duty in our final hours, not just for us, but our Afghanistan National Army heroes as well.

Dramatic and moving images of US Army Paratroopers and Afghan Army soldiers being evacuated after a November 2007 ambush near Forward Operating Base Bella, home of Chosen Company, 2-503rd PIR, 173rd ABCT in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan.

The troops were on their way back from a meeting in a nearby village just two miles from OP Bella when they were attacked on 9 November. Five Soldiers from the 173rd ABCT and one Marine were killed. Eight more Sky Soldiers and 11 ANA were wounded.

Eight separate air crews subsequently conducted what was to become a combined 31-hour medevac mission involving multiple lifts.

The Crew Chief operates the hoist, as he pulls a casualty into the aircraft. This is a one person operation that is difficult to perform when the casualty is in a SKED, especially when the casualty has the added weight of body armor and equipment. The Medic rides the hoist to the ground and back up, time and time again.

Imagine performing this operation 20-25 continuous times wearing Night Vision Goggles (NVGs), the Crew Chief continuing to advise the pilots of aircraft drift and rotor clearance as the mountain side is dangerously close.

He ensures the hoist is ready for the next lift and watches the Medics hand and arm signals as he also directs the positioning of the aircraft. It becomes apparent this task is physically exhausting and difficult to master in routine conditions, let alone this punishing-unforgiving terrain at night.

The cabin of the aircraft becomes crowded, and the difficulty the Crew Chief and the Medic have maneuvering recovered personnel inside becomes increasingly challenging. Dust-off has a crew of 4: Pilot, Copilot, Crew Chief, and Medic.
Anyone that has operated in this environment understands the difficulty of the job these heroes do for us on a moments notice without hesitation under trying conditions and daunting circumstances. Not once do they ask for gratitude or thanks.

Had this mission not been captured by the AH-64 gun cameras, this would have been another example of selfless service occurring in this battle space on a daily basis that we never get to hear about and from countless service members across the spectrum; Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and our Civilian brethren included.

Im Memoriam:

1st Lt. Matthew C. Ferrara, 24, of Torrance, Calif.
Sgt. Jeffery S. Mersman, 23, of Parker, Kan
Spc. Sean K.A. Langevin, 23, of Walnut Creek, Calif.
Spc. Lester G. Roque, 23, of Torrance, Calif.
Pfc. Joseph M. Lancour, 21, of Swartz Creek, Mich.
Marine Sgt. Phillip A. Bocks, 28, of Troy, Mich.

Update: Why we fight: Because "all of humanity is our tribe", by Linda Ferrara, mother of 1LT Ferrara.

Click here for more 173rd ABCT Afghanistan posts.

No comments: