Great Mills grad builds medevac in Iraq
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.
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.