We've mentioned DUSTOFF 73 - C Company, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade - before... first when they received the Air/Sea Rescue of the Year award at Ft. Rucker, and again when they were honored at the 2012 Army Aviation Association of America’s annual forum.
The four-soldier Black Hawk crew — pilot Chief Warrant Officer 4 Kenneth Brodhead, pilot Chief Warrant Officer 2 Erik Sabiston, flight medic Sgt. Julia Bringloe and crew chief Spc. David Capps — spent nearly 12 hours in the air, extracting 14 wounded and one soldier killed in action and flying three critical resupply missions during a three-day operation in June 2011 in Kunar Province, Afghanistan.
Now Sgt. Julia Bringloe has received the Distinguished Flying Cross:
On the first day while flying in the thin, sparing air at 10,000 feet, her chopper's blades desperate to find purchase and provide lift, Bringloe was lowered more than 15-stories to the ground.
On the rocky soil, she hauled a wounded soldier from his stretcher and hooked him to her cable for the ride 150 feet back up into the chopper, which was still desperately clawing for purchase in the rarefied air.
As the hoist pulled them up, the cable swung Bringloe and her patient straight into a nearby tree where she swung her body around to protect his, breaking her leg.
“In some of the write-ups I’ve seen you would think my leg was dangling off of (my torso),” Bringloe told Paul Ghiringhelli at the Fort Drum paper. “But really it was just a small fracture.”
Back at base when Bringloe brought the wounded to the infirmary, one of her pilots, Chief Warrant Officer Erik Sabiston noticed her leg, and asked her if she needed to quit.
Bringloe said it wasn't an option. “I was the only medic in the valley and it was a huge mission,” she told The Daily.
Back where she'd broken her leg, Bringloe was dropped down again to rescue a fallen Afghan translator who needed to be lifted out before troops in the structure below could move on.
Pilot Sabiston slipped the Black Hack into a hover that locked him eye-to-eye with enemy insurgents on a ridgeline about 70 feet from the house below. The site was a frenzy of gunfire.
“As soon as she hit the ground she was in a no-lie, real-deal firefight,” Sabiston said.
A nearby Apache gunship pilot radioed Bringloe's crew, “Medevac, you guys are crazy.”
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