27 August 2014

Refueling Over Iraq

A U.S. F-18 fighter jet refuels from a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft over northern Iraq, Aug. 21, 2014. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel.

16 August 2014

Remembering Mike Stokely

SGT Mike Stokely
KIA 16 AUG 2005 near Yusufiyah Iraq

My thoughts are with you and your family today, Robert. We'll always love and remember Mike.

Part of Mike's legacy - Hughes, Ark., native, Staff Sgt. James Robinson, Company C, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, hands out school materials donated by the Mike Stokely Foundation at a school in Mullah Fayad, March 27, 2008. (U.S. Army photo/Staff Sgt. Tony M. Lindback)

13 August 2014

Survivors of Battle of Wanat Find Closure at Medal of Honor Ceremony

Dr. Justin Madill served on a medevac helicopter in Afghanistan. Madill recently received the Air Medal with “V” device for valor. Photo: Courtesy of Justin Madill.

Another unsung Hero of the Battle of Wanat, MEDEVAC Flight Surgeon Dr. Justin Madill. In 2008, Madill was the 2-17 Cavalry, Task Force Flight Surgeon in the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade and was also the medical director for the C6-101 Helicopter Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) Platoon and the Pathfinder Combat Search and Rescue Team. During that deployment, Madill flew and supervised missions for 479 patients, personally transported 143 patients, and extracted 49 patients from the battlefield.

In the early hours of July 13, 2008, a battle was raging in Wanat, Afghanistan.

In the final hours of the battle, a medevac helicopter flew in, navigating through heavy fire from enemy and U.S. forces to rescue the injured.

Dr. Justin Madill, 39, was the doctor on that helicopter. The Billings native now lives in Great Falls and is an emergency room physician at Benefis Health System. His parents, Cecil and Linda Madill, also live in Great Falls.

"There was really no good place to land," Madill said. "I thought for sure I was going to die."

Madill and other medics had to climb down farming terraces and through razor wire to reach the troops and then help them back up to the helicopter.

Staff Sgt. Ryan Pitts was one of the troops Madill pulled out that day.

Last month, Pitts was awarded the Medal of Honor at the White House for his actions during the battle.

Madill and the other troops involved attended the ceremony.

It was the first time they were all together again, in a calm and safe situation, Madill said.

At the ceremony, he also met family members of those killed during his deployment, including Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Kahler, for whom the outpost at Wanat was named.

Kahler was Pitt's platoon sergeant who was killed in January 2008 and was Madill's first medevac mission in Afghanistan.

"It gave everyone a sense of closure," Madill said. "It was a bigger deal than I thought it was going to be."

For his actions at Wanat, Madill received the Air Medal with "V" device for valor.

07 August 2014

Purple Heart Day

On Aug. 7, 1782, General George Washington, the commander in chief of the Continental Army, created the Badge for Military Merit. It consisted of a purple heart-shaped piece of silk edged with a narrow binding of silver with the word “Merit” stitched across the face in silver. The badge was presented to Soldiers for any singular meritorious action.

Now, the Purple Heart, which is the oldest American military decoration for military merit, is awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces who have been killed or wounded in action against an enemy. It is also awarded to soldiers who have suffered maltreatment as prisoners of war.

Purple Heart day is dedicated to honoring service members, past and present, who have received the Purple Heart medal.

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