Great Mills grad builds mede­vac in Iraq

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Sol­diers from the 29th Com­bat Avi­a­tion Brigade, in slightly over a week’s time, es­tab­lished an aeromed­i­cal evac­u­a­tion ca­pa­bil­ity near the Mo­sul Dam in Iraq.

The hastily es­tab­lished mede­vac site pro­vided life-sav­ing ca­pac­ity to coali­tion forces sup­port­ing Op­er­a­tion In­her­ent Re­solve, ac­cord­ing to a re­port ear­lier this fall by Capt. Stephen James in an Army press re­lease.

Es­tab­lish­ing the mede­vac site near Mo­sul re­quired Sol­diers from the 29th CAB to build land­ing pads es­tab­lish com­mu­ni­ca­tions and co­or­di­nate with Ital­ian sol­diers who al­ready oc­cu­pied the lo­ca­tion and were fo­cused on re­pair­ing the Mo­sul Dam.

Sol­diers also had to plan to over­come ob­sta­cles with main­te­nance, re­sup­ply, fuel and even the lan­guage bar­rier, said Capt. Alexis McRobert, a mede­vac pla­toon leader from 2-149th Gen­eral Sup­port Avi­a­tion Bat­tal­ion, 29th CAB.

Sol­diers over­came these ini­tial chal­lenges with as­sis­tance from other mil­i­tary units in Iraq; en­gi­neers and com­mu­ta­tions per­son­nel were es­pe­cially help­ful.

In par­tic­u­lar, the mede­vac site needed land­ing zones that could safely ac­com­mo­date ad­di­tional air­craft, so 29th CAB’s brigade en­gi­neer, 1st Lt. An­son Ca­vanagh, en­listed help from the 153rd En­gi­neer Bat­tal­ion to get the job done.

To de­velop ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tions for the mede­vac site, the 29th CAB’s sig­nal sec­tion, led by Mas­ter Sgt. Carl McKlveen, en­sured com­mu­ni­ca­tions were set up, co­or­di­nated and integrated with ad­ja­cent units, said Capt. Neal Mur­ray, an avi­a­tion of­fi­cer with the 29th CAB who acted as a li­ai­son of­fi­cer while cre­at­ing the mede­vac site. Mur­ray is a grad­u­ate of Great Mills High School and in the Mary­land Na­tional Guard.

With­out the co­op­er­a­tion of the Ital­ian forces of Task Force Prae­sid­ium near the Mo­sul Dam, the 29th CAB could not have es­tab­lished the mede­vac site so quickly, said Mur­ray, who speaks Ital­ian and acted as a trans­la­tor.

“We couldn’t have done it with­out the Ital­ians,” added Ca­vanagh.

Work­ing with the Ital­ian forces al­lowed their U.S. coun­ter­parts an op­por­tu­nity to fur­ther de­velop re­la­tion­ships with their coali­tion part­ners while work­ing to ac­com­plish their shared mis­sion.

“We had great in­ter­op­er­abil­ity with coali­tion forces,” added Aileena Flynn, an en­route crit­i­cal care nurse.

Work­ing to­gether al­lowed the sol­diers of the 29th CAB to quickly ac­com­plish their mis­sion and en­hanced the sur­viv­abil­ity of coali­tion forces.

“In just un­der 10 days of be­ing on the ground we were able to con­cep­tu­al­ize our idea and ex­e­cute a plan that took care of all avi­a­tion re­quire­ments while work­ing with coali­tion forces in a new lo­ca­tion,” said Mur­ray.

Af­ter the mede­vac site was es­tab­lished, a team with HH-60 and UH-60 he­li­copters pro­vided med­i­cal evac­u­a­tion cov­er­age in sup­port of coali­tion operations over mul­ti­ple weeks, said McRobert. This sup­port was crit­i­cal dur­ing mil­i­tary operations to lib­er­ate Tal Afar, Iraq, from ISIS.

Al­though the site itself was only tem­po­rary, it shows the 29th CAB, and the coali­tion as a whole, is ca­pa­ble of quickly re­spond­ing to the op­er­a­tional needs of units sup­port­ing the fight against ISIS.

The 29th CAB is an Army Na­tional Guard brigade that pro­vides avi­a­tion as­sets, pre­ci­sion of­fen­sive strike ca­pa­bil­ity, and op­er­a­tional and lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port to Op­er­a­tion In­her­ent Re­solve.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Gravel is moved to cre­ate a he­li­copter land­ing zone out­side of Mo­sul, Iraq, on Aug. 14. The land­ing zone es­tab­lished an aeromed­i­cal evac­u­a­tion site which in­creased the sur­viv­abil­ity of coali­tion forces op­er­at­ing in sup­port of Com­bined Joint Task Force Op­er­a­tion In­her­ent Re­solve.

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