Oct 25, 2010

Heeding the call: Medevac crews in Afghanistan

Crews carry out a vital mission, often under enemy fire
By Kelly Kennedy - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Oct 25, 2010
Kandahar, Afghanistan — As a Black Hawk helicopter bearing a red cross lands, medics, pilots and crew members surge forward to glimpse a shard of shrapnel sparkling in the sun near a tiny puddle of blood.
“What happened?” yells a pilot as soon as the blades stop spinning.
Spc. Charles Williams, cheeks gray with a sheen of dust and sweat, grins from the back of the bird.
Adrenaline makes Williams’ hands shake as he starts to tell his story. It was his first hot landing zone on his second day on the job, and telling the story was his first lesson in putting the pieces in order in his mind so they wouldn’t come back to haunt him.
It’s that moment — culled from hundreds of other moments playing cards, training and honing a morbid sense of humor — that defines everything for a medevac crew.
They see themselves as saviors of a sort, and that belief helps them deal with the images of pain and carnage that necessitate their medical prowess. In their world, there’s no politics; people just need to be saved.
The adrenaline that makes it difficult for infantry soldiers and Marines to come back down after deployment also flows through the blood of the medics in C Company, 6th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, known as “Shadow Dustoff.”

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