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This is a very touching article, and it is sad at the same time. Thank God for our guys.

Coalition, Afghan Soldiers save baby girl.
by Media Center Bagram
Bagram Media Center.
January 9, 2008
.

Coalition medics stabilize a 1-year-old girl who was badly burned when she fell into a fire used to heat her family’s home in the Lashkar Gah District, Helmand Province. Coalition and Afghan National Security Forces worked together to save the girl’s life and arranged her transport to another military outpost with more substantial medical capabilities. She was escorted to the new military outpost by her uncle. Photo by Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan.

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – ANSF and CF saved the life of a 1-year-old girl after she was badly burned falling into a fire used to heat her family’s home in Lashkar Gah District in Helmand Province. Coalition medics immediately began lifesaving efforts after her family brought her to a combined military outpost. Doctors assessed the girl’s condition and determined she was burned over 20 percent of her body, including burns to her face, arms, scalp and hands. Medics arranged for a helicopter to take the child, escorted by her uncle, to another military outpost with more medical capabilities in the nearby Washir District of Helmand Province. Doctors prepared, cleaned and dressed the baby’s burns. “While there are clinics and medical facilities in Helmand District, sometimes it is difficult for villagers in outlying areas to access that care,” explained a Coalition forces medic. “ANSF and Coalition forces were able to work together to save this little girl’s life. Even though insurgents have made life difficult for villagers in this region, ANSF are committed to providing for the well being and security of the Afghan people.”

I pray this young child lives throught this ordeal. I know the medics who worked on her certainly do, too.

Coalition troops aid Afghan students in Bagram.
by Media Center Bagram
Jan. 8, 2008

Bagram Media Center.

A Coalition servicemember chats with a young student at the Jan Qadam School, near Bagram Village, Parwan Province, Afghanistan, Jan. 6, while Haji Enr Yatullah, the school’s principal and a village elder, look on. Servicemembers brought donated winter clothes, shoes, toys and school supplies to the school to show their support for villagers.

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — It was a banner day Jan. 6 for children attending the Jan Qadam School near Bagram village. Coalition troops assigned to Bagram Airfield stopped by the school, which is near the airfield, to visit with children, teachers and village elders, as well as deliver several boxes of school supplies and toys. The eight-room schoolhouse caters to more than 1,000 students daily, in three shifts. The students range in age from 5 to 15 years old. Fifteen servicemembers entered the village carrying boxes of supplies for the children.

Once they arrived at the school, village elders distributed the items to the children, boys in one classroom and girls in another. The children laughed and smiled as they received their gifts, which included notebooks, pencils, crayons and toys. Some students received new shoes and personal hygiene items.

Haji Enr Yatullah, the school’s principal and a village elder, said being good neighbors is important for the well-being of the village. “You not only help me, but you help all the villages around here,” Yatullah said. … In addition to delivering school supplies and other goods, CF met with village elders to see what other types of assistance they could provide. [Continue reading.]

Many Americans send supplies for the children, such as pencils, pens, paper, crayons, backpacks, and even clothes. If you are interested in sending something to the children, there are many organizations which you can go through. Soldiers’ Angels is a good source to find what you are for.

Corps of Engineers completes al Mahaweel clinic.
by John Connor
Jan. 9, 2008
Gulf Region Division, US Army Corps of Engineers
.

The Al Mahaweel Primary Healthcare Clinic in Babil Province was recently completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Gulf Region Division South district.

BABIL PROVINCE, Iraq — Work is complete on a primary healthcare center at al Mahaweel in Babil Province. The facility was constructed for about $1 million under two construction contracts and five non-construction contacts, according to Robin Parks, health sector program manager for the Gulf Region South District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. GRS does construction and reconstruction work in the nine southern provinces of Iraq. The money for the clinic was provided under the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund. The non-construction contracts provided medical equipment, plus installation and training, as well as electrical generators, furniture and office equipment, Parks said. [Continue reading.]

Our guys and gals are doing so many good works that go unnoticed by the dinosaur media day in and day out, it makes me wonder if they truly want us to win. Just thinking, ya know?

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Source: CentCom.

by Norris Jones
Jan. 7 2008
.

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Extensive renovations will soon be complete at one of Sadr City’s major hospitals in east Baghdad. Al Baladi Maternity and Children’s Hospital initially opened in 1982 and during the following two decades little was spent on routine maintenance, said Iraqi Project Engineer Mohammad Attar, who oversees the hospital’s upgrade for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “During Saddam’s time, patients there had to tolerate 100-degree-plus interior temperatures because the air conditioning system was broke,” he explained.

The $12 million, three-year renovation included the installation of four new chillers, four cooling towers and four new boilers. “Those improvements helped the elderly and infants, who have little tolerance for heat and cold. The hospital is now able to maintain a comfortable interior temperature in both summer and winter,” Attar noted. Other improvements include an oxygen plant, central vacuum system, nurse call system, intercom paging system, data communications network, new toilets and showers, new exhaust system to remove unhealthy air, new generator for emergency power, medical waste incinerator, and new water purification system.

The medical staff of eight doctors and thirty nurses is treating five times the number of sick people they saw prior to the renovation. They’re seeing 150 to 200 patients daily, 80 percent of which are children. Their obstetric department is delivering 30 to 40 newborns every day. “One of their main goals is reducing the infant mortality rate and the new equipment is making a difference,” Attar said. The two-story hospital has a bed capacity for 200 patients.

More than 100 Iraqis have been part of the construction crew. They installed a new roof, put in new plumbing and electrical, rebuilt the physicians’ family-size apartments, added a new cafeteria area and kitchen, new lighting, new plastering, redid all the floors and ceilings, new surgical theater suite and x-ray equipment.

“It’s truly rewarding to know we’ve helped some of the poorest people in Baghdad,” Attar said. “They were tolerating absolutely horrible conditions. The toilets were overflowing, the air was stagnant, the medical equipment was outdated and much of it didn’t work. Despite ongoing insurgency threats, the contractor kept making steady progress. Today, Sadr City families have a modern facility and access to equipment that was simply not available three years ago. We’re all proud to have been a part of the effort.”

An Iraqi woman cares for her child at a newly renovated hospital in Sadr City, Baghdad. (U.S. Army photo).

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Source: .

19 DEC 2007
By Staff Sgt. Mike Andriacco, USAF
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HERO, Afghanistan – Airmen in a medical mentoring team here have been working hard to ensure the successful opening of an Afghan National Army hospital for the past several months. The team’s original mission was to mentor their Afghan counterparts and teach them medical skills to treat Afghan military and police members, said Air Force Col. Mike Skidmore, the team’s senior mentor officer and administrator.

All that changed when the team arrived several months ago, he said. The hospital was 500 days behind schedule, and instead of finding equipment and eager ANA medical personnel, the team found an empty, incomplete facility. “We had to move from a mentoring mission to a new mindset of equipping the hospital, opening it and then mentoring,” said Air Force Col. (Dr.) Thomas Seay, the senior medical mentor and chief radiologist.

Most of the state-of-the-art equipment, to include a digital X-ray and digital ultrasound machines, were purchased by the United States, with some items – such as wheelchairs — donated by a nonprofit organization based in Canada, he said. The hospital is one of the most advanced of its kind in the southern region of Afghanistan.

“Phase one of the construction consisted of a $5.6 million, 50-bed main hospital,” Skidmore said. “It will serve the entire ANA 205th Corps, including four combat brigades, their associated garrison clinics and more than 27,000 ANA soldiers, Afghan National Police and their families. There are two isolation rooms, one trauma room, two operating rooms, and an intensive care ward that can accommodate up to six patients.” One of the most impressive elements of the project is the water processing plant, he added. It uses a multi-stage process to clean and sterilize water to the standard necessary for hospital conditions and also is being used as a model for future water plants throughout the country. Contractors also recently broke ground on phase two, a $2.6 million hospital expansion that will house an additional 50 patients, Skidmore said.

With the hospital ribbon-cutting held Dec. 15, the mentoring team now is looking forward to starting the job it came to do. The team is made up of a total of 18 airmen: three doctors, three nurses, three administrators, a radiologist, a pharmacist, a medic, two lab technicians, a pharmacy technician, a radiology technician, a biomedical equipment technician and a logistician. Team members will work with their Afghan counterparts to create a baseline of skills, Seay said. There also will be a lot of focus on sterilization and sustainment of equipment and resources, he added.

Together, the team hopes its efforts can help the Afghan National Army to rebuild the country and be effective at maintaining peace and security. “This is arguably the best ANA hospital in the entire country, given the building, the equipment and the water treatment plant, but the most impressive part of this hospital is its staff,” Skidmore said. “They are incredibly excited and enthusiastic to learn new clinical and managerial techniques in health care.”

Photo – Air Force Tech. Sgt. Edward Weaver, a medic deployed from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., instructs Afghan National Army medical personnel on spinal immobilization techniques at the newly opened Kandahar ANA regional hospital in Afghanistan. The medical mentoring team arrived to find the construction 500 days behind schedule and immediately took on the task of supplying the hospital and getting it opened before continuing the mission of mentoring Afghan National Army medical personnel. Photo by Col. (Dr.) Thomas Seay, USAF.

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Source: CentCom.

30 November 2007
By Senior Airman James Bolinger, USAF
Combined Joint Task Force 82 Public Affairs
.

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan – The towns of Eskandareh and Pacha Khak hide deep within the mountains of the Kohe Safid district in Afghanitan’s Parwan province. Eskandareh is near the head of Tagab Valley, and Pacha Khak has been a stronghold for many armies throughout Afghanistan’s history.

Members of 413th Civil Affairs Battalion, accompanied by Afghan National Police and the Kohe Safi Police Mentor Team, brought doctors and veterinarians to these two remote villages Nov. 27 for a village medical outreach.

Medical outreach missions are a way for the Afghan government and coalition forces to build a rapport with citizens on their own turf, said Army Col. Robert Nobak, of 413th Civil Affairs Battalion. “When possible, we like to work with Afghan providers and, when necessary, make referrals to Afghan medical facilities,” he said. “However, if there are cases where Afghan facilities are not readily available, we can make referrals to (Bagram Air Base).”

This was the first time such a mission has been held at either of these villages, and more than 450 men, women and children were seen. “The age range was from 2 to 95, so the spectrum was fairly broad,” Nobak said. “The most common complaint was joint pain, for which we have a variety of anti-inflammatory medicines.”

Maj. Jeremy McGuire, leader of the Kohe Safi Police Mentor Team, organized the mission. “I proposed the idea for a medical outreach to Parwan’s subgovernor and the local (Afghan police) chief,” he said. “They picked the villages, which are a political hot bed.” Pacha Khak was a Mujahedeen stronghold during the communist regime and was sympathetic to the Taliban when coalition forces took control of Afghanistan. Eskanderah villagers fought against the Taliban; in fact, an Afghan National Army general hails from the area, McGuire said.

The mission met “my expectations as far as the timeline, security and set-up,” said Navy Lt. Tammy Felker, a physician assistant with 413th Civil Affairs Battalion who attended to women and girls in the village. “It did not meet my expectations in that I would have liked to have seen more women of childbearing age. When we don’t see women of childbearing age in the clinic, then the village tends to be more traditional and suppress their women. The amount of women of childbearing age we see signifies the level of freedom the women have.” Still, Felker said, she felt the mission was still a success. “This is the first time we visited these villages. It takes time to develop a rapport with people,” she said. “The first part is establishing trust. I feel we established trust with this visit, so, next time we will see more women and children.

Helping people with their ailments wasn’t the only aspect of this mission. A veterinarian and an entomologist were also along for the ride. “I provide public-health assistance and education to the villagers, hopefully to implement long-lasting fixes for problems like insect-borne and food- and water-borne diseases, improving the overall health and well-being of locals, though I tend to assist the other medical or vet assets to accomplish their missions,” said Navy Lt. Jason Forster, a medical entomologist.

As the Humvees headed back to Bagram Air Base, chatter over the radios was all about the success of the mission. “On a scale of 1 to 10, I would call this (mission) a 9,” McGuire said. “We would have liked to get more Afghan doctors, but the ANP did an outstanding job with security.”

Photo – Sgt. 1st Class Jason Sealey, Kohe Safi Police Mentor Team, holds a calf still while Lt. Col. Richard Probst, 413th Civil Affairs Battalion, gives it a shot during a medical outreach visit, Nov. 27, 2007, in Afghanistan’s Parwan province. Coalition doctors and veterinarians saw more than 450 people and 330 animals during the two-day visit. Photo by Senior Airman James Bolinger, USAF.

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Source: US CentCom.

29 October 2007
BY Cpl. Nathan Hoskins
1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs
.

CAMP TAJI, Iraq – For the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division’s medical evacuation unit, the horrors of war are all too real. But, those missions of transporting hurt and dying patients are over for a few troopers.

About a dozen Soldiers from Company C, 2nd “Lobo” Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, loaded up onto non-MEDEVAC UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters for a change, and began their journey home, Oct. 25. They are the first group of Soldiers from the 1st ACB to redeploy.

“It feels good to be going home after 15 months,” said Rochester, N.Y., native, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Bryan Sills, a MEDEVAC pilot for the Co. C “Witch Doctors.”

Like most units in Iraq, when the final orders came down, Co. C. was extended to 15 months. This made the deployment more difficult, said Orchard Park, N.Y., native, Sgt. 1st Class Jon Spiller, a flight medic for Co. C and the brigade’s senior medical noncommissioned officer. “This was my third deployment and it was probably the roughest one I’ve been through; mainly because of the extension,” Spiller said.

Even after they knew the extension was going to affect them, it didn’t really hit the Witch Doctors until the 12-month mark, Spiller said. “Once we heard about it, we all prepared for it, but when you hit that 12-month mark and you know you should be going home, you kind of feel a little different about it,” he said.

The extension aside, Spiller felt the Witch Doctors did some good while they flew over Iraq. “I really think we made a difference over here. We helped out the best we could. I’ll be happy when everybody gets home,” Spiller said.

Day in and day out for 15 months the troops from Co. C saw the horrors of war, but they made it a point to be a part of the change taking place in Iraq – even if that meant making amends with those who seek to kill Coalition Forces, said Spiller.

One patient in particular was an insurgent who had a gun shot wound to the leg, said Spiller. “We seemed to kind of connect. We couldn’t really talk because we were in a helicopter and plus he didn’t speak English,” he said “I just kind of did some hand gestures and helped him out.” Spiller, as a sign of kindness, tried to give the wounded enemy fighter a bracelet he was wearing at the time, but the man only gestured as if he didn’t deserve such a gift, said Spiller.

“I know a lot of our medics are doing things like that, where they want to make sure these people understand we’re here to help them whether they like us or not,” he said.

But those times are now memories with which to tell stories to their friends and families – for the most part. Spiller can’t wait to see his wife and three kids, he said. After three long deployments, another shorter deployment and basic noncommissioned officer school, he estimates that he has been gone from home almost five years straight, said Spiller.

Although he just got done saving lives in Iraq, Spiller heralds his wife, Kris, as a hero for keeping it together through all of his deployments. “She’s tried to keep her sanity. She’s definitely kept the household together with me gone. I’m just looking forward to being back at home with my kids and make our family whole again,” he said. Spiller plans to spend lots of time with his wife; his son Tyler, 15; and his two daughters, Victorya, 13, and McKellen, 8, when he gets home. That doesn’t mean his mind isn’t on good ‘ole American sustenance.

He is already thinking about the steak he’ll eat if he arrives in the evening or that quaint little coffee shop if he arrives in the morning, he said. “If it’s dinner, steaks; if it’s around breakfast time, we have a couple little places we like to go. I’ll have a nice coffee cappuccino, sit down, enjoy the view and be glad to be home,” said Spiller.

For some of the Witch Doctors, arriving home means time with the family, for others it’s that and the start of a new life altogether. Bay City, Mich., native, Sgt. Robert Witbrodt, a UH-60 Black Hawk crew chief for Co. C, will be joining the civilian ranks soon after his arrival home, he said. With three tours in Iraq complete, Witbrodt will be heading to school to study engineering, he said.

Still, he is proud of what he and his unit accomplished while in Iraq, said Witbrodt. “I like the mission here. Saving lives is pretty (darn) great. Sometimes it’s hard on you, but it’s rewarding,” he said. Other than school, Witbrodt is fairly laid back about what he’ll do once stateside. “I don’t really have any big plans other than just spending time with my wife and maybe a little snowboarding, but that’s about it,” he said.

Although each Soldier’s plans are varied, all that really matters to them is that they’re headed home. The rest of Co. C will soon follow their fellow Witch Doctors, but will first hand over their mission to another MEDEVAC unit taking their place.

Photo – With 15 months of medical evacuation missions behind them, Soldiers from Company C, 2nd “Lobo” Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, load up their gear onto a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter before they start their trip from Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, back to the United States Oct. 25. Photo by Cpl. Nathan Hoskins.

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Source: US CentCom.

3 Oct 07
by MC2 Regina L. Brown
Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, Public Affairs
.

TADJOURA, Djibouti — After spending eight years in the United States Marine Corps as an adjutant and logistics officer, Capt. Erin Nalepa, a Dearborn, Mich. native, decided she wanted to do something different with her life, so she joined the reserves and started on a nursing degree. She never imagined that an opportunity to get hands-on experience in the medical field would be available to her while on deployment at Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa in Djibouti.

Army Lt. Col. Alana Conley offered her the opportunity to help the 350th Civil Affairs Command functional specialty team with a Medical Civic Action Program that was conducted in the villages of Dalay-Af, Alaili Dadda and Obock, located in Djibouti from Sept.15-27, and Nalepa immediately jumped at the chance.

Nalepa already had experience helping others through the time she spent volunteering with the American Red Cross. Some of her volunteer experiences include visiting patients at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C., teaching classes to students at the United States Marine Corps School of Infantry at Camp Geiger, N.C. on the process of Red Cross Emergency Messages and teaching first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation at Orange County ARC in Anaheim, Calif.

Being a staff secretary to CJTF-HOA Chief of Staff, Navy Capt. William Sizemore, Nalepa doesn’t get out of the office much, but Nalepa was able to break from her job and dedicate four days to help with the MEDCAP.

“I hear about all the things that go on here at CJTF-HOA, but I haven’t been able to see anything until now,” said Nalepa. “This is just amazing to see all the logistics and all the planning that happens when we come together out here. Seeing what we’re actually doing for these people is pretty great.”

Nalepa was given the job of fitting patients for adaptive eyewear during the MEDCAP. The strength of the glasses is changed using syringes which adjust the amount of liquid in each lens. The syringes used to make the changes can then be removed. Even though the job required no medical expertise, Nalepa was still able to gain experience helping others.

Throughout her life, Nalepa has admired the bedside manner of not only her family doctors, but her mother as well. Nalepa’s mother, Janet, is an X-ray and mammography technician at the Oakwood Hospital & Medical Center in Dearborn.

“I think of the way the doctors made me feel better and comforted me when I was sick and I want to be able to do that for others,” said Nalepa.

The MEDCAP gave her the perfect opportunity to get hands on experience with helping people and to do her part to support the mission of CJTF-HOA, which is to prevent conflict, promote regional stability and protect coalition interests in east Africa and Yemen through humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, consequence management, and civic action programs to include medical and veterinary care, school and medical clinic construction, and water development projects.

“This MEDCAP has really given me a much better perspective of what we do at CJTF-HOA, as well as giving me a chance to do work in the medical field,” said Nalepa. “After participating, I feel even stronger about becoming a nurse.”

Nalepa is currently completing pre-requisites and will apply to a nursing program as soon as she returns from deployment in mid-October.

Photo – Marine Corps Capt. Erin Nalepa fits a patient for a pair of adaptive eyewear prescription glasses during a Medical Civic Action Program held in the village of Alaili Dadda in Djibouti. Service members deployed to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa offered medical care to remote villages throughout Djibouti from Sep. 15-27 during the MEDCAP. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Regina L. Brown.

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Source: CentCom.

Ah, the great people behind the scenes. Back home, I hate doctors. They are so full of themselves. Not out here…

Please allow me this one moment to say I AM NOT IN THE MILITARY. I know there is a big to-do about phony soldiers, and I do not want to give the impression that I am. I just love and appreciate our troops so much. That’s all folks.

1 Oct 07
by Capt. Christopher Moore
386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
.

SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) — Army Sgt. Scott Boomershire injured his ankle kicking down doors in Iraq. However, it’s up to Airmen here, stationed hundreds of miles from the infantryman’s unit in Baghdad, to help Sergeant Boomershire get the medical care he needs to put him back in the fight.

Members of the 386th Expeditionary Medical Group’s Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility team are charged with preparing injured servicemembers for transport to medical facilities around the world.

“If we receive someone who looks like they can be treated in the area, we’ll make sure they are cleared for travel and send them to a regional medical facility for treatment and return to duty,” said 1st Lt. Elizabeth Quinn-Wilber, a CASF nurse deployed from Travis Air Force Base, Calif. “If medical conditions are too severe, we’ll prepare the individual for flight aboard one of our C-130 (Hercules aircraft) and they’ll be flown to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, for advanced care.”

The CASF receives patients via C-130 from bases throughout the region or via ambulance from nearby military bases. Once patients arrive, the CASF staff makes sure their vitals are within normal limits, changes dressings if necessary, and prepares the servicemembers for their next journey.

“Most patients we receive are actually pretty close to being ready to go,” said Senior Airman Elle Liza Marie Franz, a CASF medical technician also deployed from Travis AFB. “We keep the patients for about 12 hours — usually just long enough for transportation to be arranged.”

The CASF processes more than 300 patients a month, with ailments ranging from hernias and broken bones, to gunshot wounds and improvised explosive device-related injuries.

It’s those patients arriving after being hit with IEDs that draw the most attention at the CASF. The CASF has implemented a “Battle Injury Program” where American flags are presented to those with combat injuries.

“It’s the least we can do,” said Maj. Cheryl Spray, the officer in charge of the CASF’s medical control center and also deployed from Travis AFB. “It’s a way to show that we appreciate the sacrifices that they make for us and it’s a small reminder of what we’re fighting for.”

Photo – Senior Airman Elle Liza Marie Franz conducts a vital check on Army patient Sgt. Scott Boomershire at the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility Sept. 24 in Southwest Asia. The CASF is a 24-hour medical holding and staging facility, which averages about 300 patients per month. Airman Franz is a 386th Expeditionary Medical Group medical technician. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Tia Schroeder.

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29 Aug 07
By Cpl. Ryan M. Blaich, II
Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD)
.

HABBANIYAH, Iraq – When a group of American military advisors deployed to Iraq and took over a small combat outpost on the outskirts of town recently, they knew the task ahead might get tough, but each day would be rewarding. The Marines and sailors that make up Military Transition Team 13, working alongside the 1st Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, are increasing the security of the area and the quality of life for local residents as well.

They operate out of a dusty, war-faced outpost named the OK Corral. They usually work long hours, patrolling streets with Iraqi soldiers or standing post overlooking the Euphrates River. They cook each meal themselves, because there is no chow hall to feed the 14 Marines, two corpsmen and company of Iraqi soldiers. They have learned to adapt, dealt with sweltering heat and braved the roadways of a foreign land.

Many of the men of MTT 13 have been to Iraq before, making them ideal candidates for an advisory team. The soldiers that make up 1st Battalion are veteran war fighters as well; hardened by battles past, experienced in combat operations. Perhaps that is why the people in this area trust the Iraqi soldiers.

Habbaniyah acts as a corridor in a crucial area, known as Jazerria, located between the once terrorist safe heaven cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. Nowadays, people go about their lives freely while searching for jobs, attending schools, plowing fields and shopping in crowded markets without fear of being shot in the crossfire of combat.

“The IAs have won the trust of the people,” said Cpl. Jason Syvrud an infantryman attached to MTT 13. “People see that they’re here, the area is safe, they are happy that their families aren’t at risk anymore. The IA is here to help the whole country and get this back on its feet. The people are loving to see the change. The country as a whole is trying to rebuild.”

Syvrud is only 22, but is currently serving his third tour in Iraq. He has been in cities where it was difficult to trust the citizens. But now he has seen a significant change in the war and in the people. He feels pride in his advisory role, knowing each day is bringing comfort to strangers he once felt uncomfortable around.

“I’ve seen in the three times I’ve been here this country has done a complete 180. It’s gone from everyone not knowing what to do and being scared to do anything, to them starting to come out and finding out what a democratic society would be like,” he said. “Now, they are really trying to get involved. They are building their schools up, they’re building up the mosques, their homes. They’re trying to find jobs. It looks more and more like a typical American rural area. The majority of the people seem happy. They’re doing what they have to do to survive and building a life out of this.”

Safety is what brings out the smiles and trust of the townspeople Syvrud said. The locals are involved with the Iraqi Army now. They help locate possible terrorists. They have begun to rebuild their community by fixing up schools, roads and mosques. The province is still early in reconstruction efforts, but the transition seems to be working as planned.

Getting the soldiers to understand the benefits of civil engagements, such as the civil medical engagements, is a priority for MTT 13 team chief, Lt. Col. Thomas Hobbs. Transition teams have assisted in several CMEs, which provide medical care to people who would normally have to travel to Ramadi to see a doctor. With more than 16 years of experience in the Marine Corps, Hobbs said focusing on civil affairs can not only counter the insurgent’s propaganda, but win the hearts and minds of law-abiding citizens.

“This battalion tends to be very focused on conventional operations. What I mean by that is in a counter-insurgency environment they are enamored with cache sweeps, security patrolling,” Hobbs said. “They should be focusing on civil affairs information operations and focusing on the population as a whole. The security level right now allows for that, so I’m trying to teach them to think in that manner.”

Hobbs praised the Iraqi company commanders for understanding the impact civil affairs has on the war efforts. “They have been very willing to get out and meet the population and doing civil affairs projects on their own, even without money. We’ve been really successful in getting the companies to move and they’re actually initiating a lot of things I want to change or make better,” he said.

Hobbs said the predominately Shiite Army has been received with open arms by the Anbari locals, who are mainly Sunni. A huge reason for this may lie in the idea of getting his team of advisors to stress the importance of making the population comfortable to Iraqi leaders. It is his philosophy that if the people are happy and satisfied with their life, then the terrorists will no longer have the ability to move freely within the community. He said the company and platoon leaders have begun to buy into the civil affairs mindset. As a result, the city has not seen any escalation in force in more than two months.

The soldiers of 1-3-1 can fight, that has been proven during the past year and a half of combat operations. Hobbs said the battalion is known throughout the Iraqi Army for its ability to engage and defeat the enemy, and that is what the terrorists should realize. The mission now is to concentrate on keeping this rural area safe and prospering. The smiles on children are evidence enough that the plan is working.

“I feel proud when I look around and see the kids and people smiling,” Syvrud said. “They’re happy when the Army and Marines come walking around, they aren’t afraid of us anymore. They’re happy with themselves, they’re happy with the environment around them and they’re striving to get better. They’re not just satisfied with things, they want it better, just like any American does.”

Photo – Lt. Col. Thomas Hoobs, team chief for Military Transition Team 13, talks to members of the Iraqi Security Forces during an inspection of a local bridge. Keeping roadways safe and drivable not only helps navigation of anti-terrorist traffic, but is part of a wider ranging civil affairs mission of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Iraqi Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division.

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25 Aug 07
By Staff Sgt. Julie Weckerlein
U.S. Central Command Air Forces Public Affairs
.

HERO CAMP, Afghanistan – Airmen and soldiers are blending medical supply logistics with a dose of Afghan National Army partnership in a dusty warehouse at ANA’s Hero Camp near Kandahar Airfield.

It’s a prescription for successful mentoring as the Afghans prepare for a new hospital opening here, said Capt. Jay Snodgrass, a medical logistics officer and ANA mentor deployed from Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The American servicemembers are helping install medical equipment into a new $6.5 million, 50-bed hospital at Hero Camp. “We’re simply here to help them improve the processes they already have in place, to share with them the lessons we’ve learned about hospital administration and logistics,” Snodgrass said.

The airmen and soldiers helping transfer equipment are medical logistics, administrators and equipment technician members for their respective services assigned to the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, which is headquartered in Kabul, Afghanistan. While in Kandahar, the servicemembers work side-by-side with their Afghan counterparts, who are responsible for supplying and equipping the Hero Camp hospital, as well as other ANA clinics and brigade support throughout the region.

Mentoring doesn’t always come easy, said Tech. Sgt. Curtis Miller, a medical logistics technician from Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. While Miller’s focus is to teach Afghans how to maintain hospital equipment, he and other embedded transition team members use every available opportunity to give advice where needed. “There is a learning curve,” Miller said. “A lot of the things we take for granted in the United States, such as changing gloves for each patient, are things Afghans typically don’t consider in a hospital. We try to spend time educating them on the benefits of sanitation and ways to prevent infection.”

Miller said when he first began as a mentor, he was a little unsure how a young, American noncommissioned officer would come across to an Afghan military man who has served longer than the sergeant has been alive. It was unnerving to say the least. “There is an Afghan colonel we work with who was put in prison during the Russian occupation two decades ago,” Miller said. “He was given execution orders and was two days away from being put to death when the Russians pulled out of Afghanistan — two days away from being killed. Now, he has those orders on display in his office. You see this and you think, man, these guys have been through a lot.”

Nevertheless, the Afghan officials are eager to learn and work with their American mentors.

“My mentor, Captain Snodgrass, and I are very close,” said Afghan Maj. Abdul Ghafar, the 205th Hero Corps warehouse commander. “The Americans work fairly with each other and with us. We interact as equals.”

The relationship between the Americans and Afghans is a result of respect and tolerance from both sides, Snodgrass said. “Major Ghabar has 27 years military experience,” he said. “He knows a lot about leading troops and warfare. What he doesn’t have full knowledge of is how to manage a warehouse of this magnitude, to take care of the logistics of supplying a hospital and an entire region with 30,000 troops. So, that’s why I’m here, to help him become familiar with the various processes.” Snodgrass pointed out that the Americans are not there to impose their way of life on the Afghan people. Instead, they are learning from each other.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations about our different cultures,” he said. “They wanted to know about some of the Christian holidays I celebrate. It’s not a big deal to them that I practice a different religion than they do.”

At the same time, Snodgrass and his team of Americans try to accommodate the Islamic traditions of the Afghans into their work. “We try to work around their prayer schedule,” he said. “Sometimes, we have to keep working through the prayer times, but then we step away and give them their space to lay out their prayer rugs and do what they need to do. We try to be aware of their holidays, too. For example, I won’t eat or drink in front of them during Ramadan, when they fast. When it comes down to it, it’s just about respecting each other.”

Snodgrass said he is confident about Ghabar’s leadership, and that the hospital and its warehouse will do well in the future as the Afghans gain experience in stocking and equipping such a vital mission. “What we are doing here is just part of an overall mission to help Afghans stand up a viable, safe, world-class healthcare system,” he said. “The day they can take on these operations themselves without our assistance will be a very good day for all of us.”

Photo – U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Doug Suddueth (bottom left) and Army Sgt. 1st Class Antonio Rivas move a load of medical equipment to a truck Aug. 18 in Afghanistan. Suddueth is deployed from Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. Rivas is deployed from Fort Sam Houston, Texas. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jim Varhegyi.

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21 Aug 07
by Staff Sgt. Les Waters
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
.

MANAS AIR BASE, Kyrgyzstan (AFPN) – Members of the 376th Expeditionary Medical Group recently saw their efforts come to fruition during a hand-over ceremony of humanitarian medical equipment from the United States to three hospitals in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, as part of Operation Provide Hope.

The largest single U.S.-assistance project for Kyrgyzstan since its independence, Operation Provide Hope is a humanitarian medical program coordinated by the State Department and supported by the Department of Defense and private donors.

This summer, the 376th EMDG worked closely with the State Department to inventory, inspect, install and train on millions of dollars of medical equipment to improve medical capability in three local hospitals. Bishkek City Hospital No. 4 (Center for Scientific Research), Bishkek City Hospital No. 1 and the National Center of Oncology were selected by the State Department to receive the equipment.

“It was a great pleasure to work with the U.S. Department of State and support the Operation Provide Hope hospital upgrade mission to the Kyrgyz Republic,” said Col. David Hocking, 376th EMDG commander.

The hope is that the upgraded equipment will translate into enhanced medical care for patients.

“It was like you are taking a good thing and making it better,” said Maj. Stephanie Gardner, 376th EMDG nurse anesthetist. “The care that is given in the hospitals is excellent, and the hope is that the equipment will make things easier to provide even better care. I feel like I helped them to ease the workload so they can concentrate on continuing to give excellent care.”

The ceremony was held at the National Center of Oncology, one of the locations Major Gardner helped install equipment and train people. “I had a hand in training the medical staff and setting up … I guess I felt like a proud parent because the equipment was all set up and the hospital looked really nice,” said Major Gardner. Part of the training the base medical staff provided included reviewing and highlighting equipment-operating manuals for translation, as well as assisting at all the locations that received equipment. It is training that is ongoing.

“We will continue to provide assistance and on-going training as much as the mission permits,” said Maj. Melissa Rokey, 376th EMDG administrator and project officer for this operation. “This ongoing assistance will hopefully further develop the relationship between our staff and the local hospital staff. This relationship is extremely important in many ways, to include our continual awareness of their ability to help support us in case of any contingency. It is our hope that we can continue giving something back to the community and their medical staff.”

Colonel Hocking said that the assistance translates on a larger scale the relationship between the two countries. “The critical support provided by our team ensured the overall success of this operation and demonstrated to the Kyrgyz people we’re a deeply compassionate nation as well,” Colonel Hocking said.

It was a team effort beyond the medical group. None of this would have been possible without the C-17 Globemaster IIIs bringing in the pallets and then maintainers and logistics Airman unloading it onto other vehicles. Security forces also arranged base entry for vehicles to take the equipment downtown.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of the efforts … from unpacking boxes, to installing the equipment, to training, our team performed flawlessly and still never missed a beat in our primary mission at Manas AB,” said Colonel Hocking. Humanitarian assistance through Operation Provide Hope totals approximately $42.3 million over the past three years. The project was coordinated with the government of Kyrgyzstan, including the executive administration of the prime minister and the Ministry of Health.

Photo – Maj. Stephanie Gardner provides training to Chinara Djanaera, an operating nurse from the National Center of Oncology, following the hand-over ceremony of humanitarian medial equipment from the 376th Expeditonary Medical Group to three hospitals in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Col. David Hocking, 376th EMDG commander, and two other nurses observe the training. The National Center of Oncology was one of three hospitals to receive the medical equipment. Major Gardner is a nurse anesthetist with the 376th EMDG. U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Les Waters.

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15 Aug 07
Sgt. David E. Roscoe
Task Force Pacemaker
.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE ORGUN-E, Afghanistan – U.S. Army engineers in Afghanistan are doing their part to restore security and the country’s economy by building roads, bridges and levees to connect Afghanistan’s people.

Afghanistan’s rugged terrain and mountainous landscape isolates most of the population from the country’s major cities and industrial area. Lack of funding, harsh seasonal weather and flash floods have made it almost impossible to maintain a lasting road system within the country. Only about 35,000 kilometers of roads connect the country’s economic centers. This explains why one of the main goals for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other engineer units is to build and repair an efficient road system in Afghanistan.

However, major concerns arise for soldiers constructing roads in a combat environment. Improvised explosive devices, car bombs and ambushes are a constant threat to soldiers working on roads. “Our company has been attacked by one IED and one (car bomb), found three IEDs, and been ambushed three times while conducting road-construction missions in Afghanistan,” Army Capt. Nicholas O. Melin, commander of Company B, 864th Engineer Combat Battalion, said. “The motivating thing about all this is that our soldiers are not allowing these obstacles to stop them, and they have maintained their good spirits in the face of danger.”

Unpredictable rainfall in Afghanistan also has been a major threat for local homes and crops as local rivers flood. This was the case in Sira Qala, a community outside Forward Operating Base Sharana, where an aging levee suffered major flood damage threatening the village’s economy. Army 1st Lt. Robert Green, Equipment Platoon leader with Headquarters and Support Company, 864th Engineer Combat Battalion, was tasked to repair the levee. “I think it was an important construction mission with an immediate impact on the population,” he said. “While it may not be a permanent solution to the problem, it will at least continue to protect the village for another couple seasons.”

Connecting Afghan civilians to cities with medical facilities also has been a major road construction goal for the battalion, dubbed Task Force Pacemaker for its Afghanistan deployment. In June, the battalion’s Company A completed a 15-kilometer road that connected the village of Khyur Khot to the town of Mest.

“The Alpha Company road-construction mission was very important because it connected the locals in that area to the town of Mest, which has medical facilities,” Army Capt. Mona A. Tanner, TF Pacemaker plans officer, said. “The road also provided coalition forces with freedom of movement between the two areas. The Alpha Company soldiers were consistent, determined and didn’t let delays weaken their spirits.”

Army Lt. Col. Mark J. Deschenes, the TF Pacemaker commander, added: “The primary purpose of Task Force Pacemaker’s road-construction mission is to maximize mobility for coalition forces and the Afghan people. The roads that we are constructing support economic growth and an efficient security presence in the country. Locals are able to travel from point A to point B easier than they were able to in the past.

“They are able to reach medical services and job opportunities with less difficulty,” he added. “The roads also allow for an increased security capability for coalition forces, the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police, providing a safer environment for everyone.”

Photo – Army Staff Sgt. Troy L. Bohanon, a member of Company A, 864th Engineer Combat Battalion, surveys the Khyur Khot to Mest road. U.S. Army photo.

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13 Aug 07
By Multi-National Division – Baghdad
Public Affairs Office
.

CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Multi-National Division – Baghdad soldiers rescued a 2-year-old Iraqi boy from a dry well in which he fell Aug. 9.

Soldiers with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division responded to the pleas for assistance from the father of a boy who had fallen into a dry well near the family’s residence.

The company commander, Capt. David Powell of Newport Beach, Calif., was about to begin a scheduled security patrol when the boy’s father approached the gate of his Coalition outpost on foot. Using an interpreter, Powell quickly assessed the situation and sent the patrol to assist with the recovery of the child.

The father directed the soldiers to the location of the well and Powell used his flashlight to find the child at the bottom. “I could see that the baby had fallen some 25 feet and was lying at the bottom of the well,” Powell said. “He appeared to be breathing, but would not answer to our calls.”

Using a back hoe from the outpost, the patrol began a slow and meticulous process of digging a parallel shaft to the dry well, then tunneling to the well horizontally, being careful not to cause the well to cave in. “The back hoe made quick work of the rescue shaft just to the south of the well. Then the real digging began,” said Powell. Because of the instability of soil, a fear of a cave-in and desire to not risk any of his soldiers, Powell selected himself and Staff Sgt. Raul Torres, a native of San Venito, Texas, to dig the horizontal shaft to the well.

Using an entrenching tool, a flat-head screwdriver, rebar and other primitive farming tools, Powell and Torres went to work. After several hours of digging, a faint crying was heard from the boy. “He sounded scared, but OK,” said Powell. “I don’t think I have ever heard a more beautiful sound.”

After five hours of digging the horizontal shaft reached the well. The well was basin shaped at the bottom, making the boy very difficult to locate. After several attempts to reach for the boy, Powell was able to pull the boy to safety.

Coalition medics on the scene quickly assessed the boy, finding no serious injuries. The child was then returned to his mother and father, who were thankful for the assistance. The patrol then filled in the hole they dug, and returned to their outpost.

The following day, Powell visited the family’s residence with a medic to ensure the child was not having any medical issues from the fall. The medic determined the child was in perfect health. “In my 18 years in the Army,” Powell said, “this is, by far, the greatest thing I have ever done.”

Photo – Capt. David Powell from Newport Beach, Calif., holds the 2-year-old Iraqi boy the day after he rescued him. The boy fell into a dry well Aug. 9. U.S. Army photo.

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10 Aug 07
by 1st Lt. Shannon Collins
332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
.

BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq (AFPN) – Approximately 150 base volunteers and 380 Airmen with the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group moved patients and equipment as they closed the doors on the old Air Force Theater Hospital and opened the doors to their pre-engineered facility here Aug. 3.

Starting at 4 a.m., Airmen in each tent tunnel section began moving patients and equipment. Throughout the past two months, a transition team, along with the help of volunteers, set up the upgraded facility. They pre-positioned as much equipment and supplies as they could to make the transition easier for the patients and medical staff.

Thousands of patients, ranging from American military members to Iraqi freedom fighters and civilians, have been treated at the hospital — the last Air Force military Level 3 trauma tent hospital in the theater. The staff performs more than 2,000 surgical procedures a month.

“We have an outstanding survivability rate, reaching 98 percent, unheard of in prior conflicts,” said Col. (Dr.) Brian Masterson, 332nd EMDG commander. “The new facility helps to enhance that capability and helps improve the survivability and minimization of the consequences of war. Inside the new facility lies the most sophisticated lifesaving technology you’ll find anywhere in the world.”

About 250 contractors worked during the day and about 150 at night to upgrade the pre-engineered facility within seven months. The existing building had been about 4,265 square feet and was the original Iraqi Air Force Academy Hospital.

The tent hospital was originally set up by the U.S. Army when the U.S. military came to Balad in 2003. In September 2004, the Air Force assumed the trauma center mission. In December 2005, the Air Force opened the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility co-located with the newly remodeled, pre-engineered facility.

The 332nd MDG’s tent hospital was about 63,105 square feet and a labyrinth of more than 30 tents. The new facility is approximately 97,000 square feet. Though there was some sentimental attachment to the tents, the upgrade gives the hospital and its staff of about 379 servicemembers several advantages.

The new facility has up to 20 intensive care units, 40 beds and eight operating tables. Better environmental controls, better power production and distribution systems,
conditioned power, indoor plumbing, all medical services in one area, safety and space are just some of the many advantages of the new facility, said Lt. Col. Michael Glass, 332nd EMDG logistics flight commander.

The previous tent hospital had very little insulation, and the environmental control units could only reduce the temperature by 20 degrees less than the ambient temperature outside, said Colonel Glass. During the summer months, the temperature reaches 120 degrees on a regular basis.

“When these systems were operating at full capacity, they tripped the breakers, causing temporary but frequent power outages,” he said. “When the power went out, the tents heated up very fast. The new hospital has hundreds of AC units to provide very controlled temperatures, and it should stay around 75 to 80 degrees year round.”

The new facility has cleaner power systems and power conditioning systems, meaning less wear and tear on the most expensive medical equipment.

One of the biggest advantages is space. The new facility has double the number of trauma bays and six isolation beds for potential infectious patients, beds they did not have in the tents. The operating rooms and patient rooms are also bigger and better, said the colonel.

Maj. Vik (Dr.) Bebarta, 332nd EMDG emergency medicine chief and flight commander for the emergency department, and his team of 24 are looking forward to the benefits of the new facility.

“The controlled climate, limited dust and better lighting will allow us to provide even better care to our injured Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines,” said the major, on his second deployment to the tent hospital.

“Working in the tents for eight months was a unique experience,” he said. “The intimate ‘soft wall’ setting created a tropism for cohesiveness, communication, passion, urgency, efficiency and patient-focused critical medical care. I hope that ethos carries over to the new setting.”

During the day of the move, the emergency department Airmen set up a department in each hospital and worked on patients in both facilities until the transition was complete. The emergency department staff evaluates about 750 patients a month, and 625 are admitted. About 65 percent of the patients are traumatic injuries, most of which are combat-related.

“We act as the entry point for all critically ill patients at the (Air Force Theater Hospital),” the major said. “We assess, resuscitate and stabilize all traumatic and medically ill patients. Our primary mission integrates with all facets of the hospital.”

Lt. Col. (Dr.) Jim Keeney is the chief of orthopedic surgery and a regular member of the operating room staff. He said the tent environment posed a few challenges.

“During the summer months, temperatures inside the tents would reach peaks over 100 degrees,” he said. “The operating rooms were in portable units with a ceiling height of approximately seven feet. Bars and light fixtures suspended from the ceiling made frequent contact with surgeon heads. The general size of the rooms made positioning of equipment tight. This was particularly the case during surges in patient-care activity, when we typically had two surgeries being performed within the same room simultaneously.”

In the new facility, the operating rooms are significantly larger, providing better ability to move equipment and ease the process of performing procedures, the colonel said. Climate control is better regulated throughout the building as well.

During an average month, the 332nd EMDG teams admit approximately 625 patients, requiring more than 700 trips to the operating room for an average of 3.5 surgical procedures per patient. The success of the AFTH trauma system is reflected in a 98 percent survivorship of U.S. military members evacuated to definitive care. The survival of wounds during past conflicts was less than 80 percent, said the colonel.

From patient wards to the emergency department to the operating rooms, the pre-engineered facility offers a variety of improvements to make combat patient care even better. Whether staff members work in tents or a pre-engineered facility, they find their deployment highly satisfying, said Colonel Keeney.

“This is certainly the best professional deployment for Air Force surgeons with an interest in trauma,” he said.

Though Aug. 3 was a very long day for the volunteers and medical staff, the move was considered a success, said Colonel Keeney.

“From the perspective of a surgeon, the best thing about the move was the fact that it was coordinated well enough to fully maintain our ability to provide trauma care without a hitch during the transition process,” he said.

Senior Airman Scott Hatch, a 332nd Expeditionary Medical Support Squadron biomedical equipment technician, was part of the transition team that helped upgrade the former Iraqi Air Force Academy Hospital.

“The new facility is amazing,” said Airman Hatch. “It’s easy to forget sometimes that it’s an expeditionary project. Seeing the new facility near the tent hospital is like a night and day difference. The new facility will make a wonderful gift to the Iraqi people when our mission here is accomplished.”

Photo – Maj. Julie Zwies and Capt. Kathy Betts inventory equipment at the new Air Force Theater Hospital at Balad Air Base, Iraq, Aug. 3. Starting at 4 a.m., about 150 base volunteers and 380 332nd EMDG Airmen moved patients and equipment to the newly upgraded, pre-engineered facility. Major Zwies and Captain Betts are assigned to the 332nd Medical Group lab flight. Photo 1st Lt. Shannon Collins.

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7 Aug 07
By Staff Sgt. Cassandra Locke
379th Air Expeditionary Wing
.

SOUTHWEST ASIA – The 379th Expeditionary Wing’s aerospace medicine team provides care for the flyers so they can stay in the fight. “We are the maintainers of the ‘wet ware’ that flies the hardware,” said Maj. Walter Matthews, chief of aerospace medicine for the wing.

Flight surgeons are rated aircrew along with pilots and navigators and are required to fly four hours per month to maintain currency. “In order to evaluate the factors involved in flying here, we fly with our air crews,” said Matthews, who is deployed here from Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.

Traditional medicine deals with abnormal physiology in a normal environment, while aerospace medicine deals with mostly normal physiology in an abnormal environment. The flight medics provide occupational medicine for maintainers, ensure the safety of the workplace and oversee their water and food quality. The team also assists the fire chief with the medical aspects of in-flight emergency investigations along with gathering the medical intelligence from the rest of the crew members.

“The quality of medical care received in both the flight medicine clinic and the main clinic is the same, but flight surgeons see medicine through a distinctly operational lens,” said Matthews. “We are charged with being the bridge between the flying world and the medical world.

The most critical requirement for the crew to accomplish their mission is to gain the trust of the flying community. To do this, the flight medics spend most of their time in the aircraft on the line. “Air crews can sometimes have a hard time trusting docs, but they usually trust ‘their own.’ This is why flight surgeons are as much aircrew as physicians,” said Matthews.

Not only do the flyers rely on the support of the physicians, but the doctors rely on the flyers as well. The crew must not only fix what is wrong with a flyer, but also must determine if that condition will cause problems in the jet or degrade the flyer’s ability to effectively fight in the air.

“A strong bridge must be well-anchored on both sides,” said Matthews.

Each of the flight medicine Airmen is part of one of the flying squadrons. The medics are part of the squadron medical element for those groups and are given the responsibility to keep the Airmen healthy. “The doctors, independent duty medical technicians and medical technicians all bring different skills to the table to form a cohesive unit that can deal with anything that is presented to them,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Nored, deployed from Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D.

Off the line, on a daily basis the flight medicine clinic sees patients for initial illnesses, follow-ups, shots and malaria medication. “We are building a healthier population by being vigilant with our immunizations program,” said Tech. Sgt. Marc Marrerro, deployed from Offutt Air Force, Neb.

They maintain a presence of all aspects of the mission that affect the flying community by ensuring the health and performance of the flyers, providing primary medical care, conducting evaluations and monitoring performance enhancement.

Photo – Airman 1st Class Nagelia Harrison, 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron flight medicine clinic, prepares to draw a blood sample from a patient’s arm. The flight medicine clinic caters specifically to the health of aircrew member. Photo by Staff Sgt. Cassandra Locke.

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1 Aug 07
by Spc. Mike Alberts
3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs
.

KIRKUK, Iraq – Temperatures exceeded 115 degrees during the five-hour mission in Amerli that day. More than 50 Soldiers were on site and tensions were high; Amerli was the scene of a massive suicide truck bombing just four days earlier.

Soldiers kept alert, but visibly struggled under the weight of dozens of pounds of battle gear. Throughout the sun-scorched day, all but two Soldiers limited their movement as much as possible. All but two could afford that luxury.

“Bolo” and “Collver” continuously walked up and down the lines of men. “Drink water,” they repeated. “Are you feeling OK?” they asked. They were the two Soldiers charged with ensuring that each man stayed hydrated and returned safely to base. As usual, they were the mission’s only dedicated medical personnel.

Spc. Vanessa Bolognese and Spc. Aimee Collver, combat medics, Personal Security Detachment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, kept all their male counterparts healthy “outside the wire” that day in Amerli just as they do every day in the Kirkuk Province, Iraq. Neither is doing exactly what she thought she’d be doing in the Army, but neither would trade her job for another.

“Before I enlisted, I was going to school to become a [registered nurse],” said Bolognese. “I wanted a medical job and my [military occupational specialty] is called health care specialist,” said the 21 year-old from Chino Hills, Calif. “In fact, the first time I heard the term ‘combat medic’ was during [advanced individual training] at Fort Sam Houston. They pretty much told us there, ‘You will be deploying. You will be working in Iraq.'” Bolognese’s colleague and roommate had similar motivations.

“I’d been working in a nursing home after high school,” said Collver. “When I walked into the recruiter’s office I knew that I wanted a medical job,” explained the 23 year-old from Puyallup, Wash. “The health care specialist job was available, and I was told that I would be working in a hospital setting,” she said. “Of course, I don’t work in a hospital and nothing out here in Iraq is anything like what I thought.”

What each combat medic is doing in Irag is working as the designated medical asset to the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s Personal Security Detachment (“PSD”). The PSD’s primary mission is to transport certain members of the brigade’s command group around 3IBCT’s area of operation. The PSD also provides personal security for the command group to and from their various destinations and while on site, according to Staff Sgt. Jeremy Brandon, non-commissioned officer-in-charge, PSD, 3IBCT.

Brandon is a native of Jacksonville, Fla., and is serving his third combat deployment. He’s charged with supervising both Bolognese and Collver and explained why each Soldier is vital to mission success. “We often conduct operations as an independent element,” explained Brandon. “For that reason, we need to have our own dedicated medical support. Bolognese and Collver are that support. We always have one of them with us wherever we go,” he said. And Brandon couldn’t be happier with their performance.

“Both Soldiers are everything that one could ask for in a medic,” he continued. “They have done an outstanding job staying on top of their skills. They’ve constantly taken it upon themselves to retrain and stay certified, and have done an excellent job both outside the wire and back here on the [Forward Operating Base] by taking the initiative to give us various medical classes.”

Brandon’s PSD Soldiers agreed. “We all respect them for their abilities as medics and as Soldiers,” said Sgt. Brian Tabor, squad leader, PSD, 3IBCT. Tabor is a five-year veteran serving his second combat deployment. “We haven’t had any issues because they’re female,” emphasized the Sacramento, Calif., native. “Bottom line: They’ve been a valuable asset to the PSD and it’s been a good thing having them with us.”

As for Bolognese and Collver, even though neither is working in the comfortable confines of a hospital, each loves her job and wouldn’t choose to do anything else. “Of course, the job is mentally challenging because of the unknown anytime you leave the wire,” said Collver. “But I love being with this group because there’s so much camaraderie. I take a lot of pride in knowing that they’re well taken care of because I’m there for them,” she said.

“Their well-being depends on me when I’m with them,” echoed Bolognese. “In that sense, it’s wonderful to know that when I look back at my deployment I can say that I did go out there every day and risk my life to take care of other Soldiers,” she said. “That’s a lot more than most people can say.”

Photo – Army combat medics, Spc. Aimee Collver (right) and Spc. Vanessa Bolognese (center), both with the 25th Infantry Division’ 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Personal Security Detachment, take a moment to interact with the local population and relax during a mission in Amerli, Iraq, July 11. Photo by Army Spc. Mike Alberts.

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In Minneapolis, Minnesota, a freeway bridge crossing the Mississippi River collapsed into the river at rush hour, about 6 pm their time. There are people in the river, rescue workers everywhere, and the bridge has totally collapsed into the river. Tons of concrete fell as the bridge was collapsing. There was school bus about to get on the bridge, but fortunately was spared. They did not get on the bridge. Thank God for huge favors.

They have set up rescue and medics. They are still pulling people out of the river. There are some deaths, but no one is sure of how many injuries and deaths have occurred. CNN is claiming one fatality, but an eye witness believes there are more than that.

Everyone, you know what to do, but I’m going to nudge you anyway. PRAY.

Update: CNN is now claiming 3 dead. I am going to keep in reserve my feelings about a possible terror attack. I don’t know, but then again, neither do you. It could be…

Update 2: Get off the bridge! They fear the 4th section of the bridge is about to collapse. This may be the center section which is still above the water.

Sources: Chicago Tribune and John Brewer of Santa Cruz Sentinel.

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Whether there is a fire fight or an accident, all of our military men need to communicate with someone to let them know help is needed. That is where the Navy’s TACAMO, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, comes to the rescue.

The communications team sits at their seats with their laptops and headsets waiting for a call. The calls normally entail a questionnaire called a “joint casualty evacuation request”, otherwise known as a “9-line”, which requests that a patient be picked up. The questions the communications crew may ask are what the grid coordinates are on the ground as well as the number of patients, special equipment needed, security at pick up site and patient status. [Continue reading.]

These men do their job magnificantly, and we should all be very proud of them. I know I am. 🙂

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For some reason, the Horn of Africa has gotten my heart. I can see it has gotten the hearts of many of our military men and women as well. They are doing such a fantastic job over there.

In this first article, the medical personnel are taking classes so that they can help those people who live in isolated areas. They just don’t want them to die if they could prevent it.

CAMP LEMONIER, DJIBOUTI – In deployed locations, corpsmen and medics can’t be everywhere. It’s important for all service members to become Combat Life Savers so they can be trained in how to save a life in a remote location. The first few minutes of a traumatic injury are crucial to the victim’s survival, which is why it’s important to know at least basic life saving skills.
[…]
“It is just no longer plausible for the medics and corpsmen to provide all the initial care in the modern battle field,” said Ingemunsun. “They are limited and can not help everyone at one time. The more service members that get the proper training, the more people that can be saved.” [Continue reading.]

These people are certainly impressive, if not to you, to me. The deserve our Honor. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen of the Armed Services.

This next article is a sweet one. When I think of Seabees, I do not think of them doing anything on land. I know. They are not fish, but I just don’t. Wait until you read this!

DJIBOUTI CITY, Djibouti – Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 spent the better part of June 13 cutting down trees at the Djibouti Hospital to make room for a community relations project that will include gazeboes that will improve the quality of life of the community.

The Djiboutians originally started removing the trees, but were unable to complete the project because they didn’t have the right tools. The director of the Djibouti Hospital asked Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa’s Charlie Company, 486th Civil Affairs Battalion for assistance. They in turn coordinated with the Seabees to get manpower and tools. [Continue reading.]

These guys are outstanding in my book, and they should outstanding your book as well!

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News from CentCom:

Jun 21, 2007
BY Multinational Corps Iraq Public Affairs
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BAGHDAD – U.S. and Iraqi army forces found an orphanage housing 24 severely malnourished and abused boys in Baghdad’s Fajr neighborhood June 10, military officials reported yesterday.

The 24 boys, ranging in age from 3 to 15, were found naked in a darkened room without any windows. Many of the children were tied to their beds and were too weak to stand, officials said. [Continue reading]

This is a miracle and a travesty. When they found these 24 boys aged 3-15, some of them were chained to their beds, there appeared to be no food because they clearly looked malnourished, yet in the next room (which was locked), there was plenty of food.

They also found the administrator and others who were supposed to be in charge of this orphanage. Some of the Iraqi Army troops went to get the correct people from town to help these boys, since most of them come not even walk.

Allow me one question to the anti-Bush, pro-commie crowd: Would you have preferred we left the boys there to die? They are not the only children we have found. Do you remember the hundreds of children we released from Saddam’s prisons? Civil rights my arse. You ought to be ashamed, but you would need an ounce of decency in you for that…

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