GRAFENWOEHR, GERMANY –
More than 50 U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 361st Civil Affairs Brigade, 7th Mission Support Command, performed realistic medical evacuation training at Camp Normandy in United States Army Garrison Bavaria, here, April 10.
The 7th Mission Support Command is the only U.S. Army Reserve command stationed in Germany with units across Europe to include the 361st, whose leadership jumped at the opportunity to team up with aviation Soldiers from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment (General Support), 12th Combat Aviation Brigade.
“We’ve got a lot of good training going on,” said Lt. Col. Daniel J. Meyers, chief of the Civil-Military Operations Center, 361st CAB.
“We have weapons qualification, we have medical training, and as part of that, we have a MEDEVAC coming in about 45 minutes,” said Meyers.
Anticipating their hands-on training, the Soldiers wasted no time unpacking their casualty dummies, tourniquets, litters and other equipment necessary to learn life-saving during combat.
Some practiced radio skills while others fanned out to set up the landing zone on the field next to the buildings at Camp Normandy.
At exactly 9a.m., the deep thudding of the 12th CAB’s UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter's rotor blades made it clear that something interesting for the Soldiers was about to happen.
Coming in at near tree-top height, the machine circled the field during its landing zone check causing branches to sway behind it.
The Blackhawk then touched down exactly one minute later kicking up leaves and loose debris in a gust of wind and prop wash.
With the rotors safely stopped and the aircraft chocked down, the crew from the 12th CAB Blackhawk, piloted by Chief Warrant Officer Two Garret Cartner and Chief Warrant Officer Two Ian J. Mally, joined crew chief Spc. Daveyon Adkins, and the team's critical care flight paramedic Sgt. Derek J. Born, to greet the civil affairs Soldiers.
After introducing themselves, Adkins and Born got down to training the 361st troops on aircraft MEDEVAC operations.
“Our job is to respond to any type of injury that happens during training,” said Born.
Born explained that his unit, which is part of the active component here with the U.S. Army Europe and Africa Command, gets the call when a Soldier or civilian is injured at Grafenwoehr Training Area.
“We're the ones who pick up the patient and bring them to the hospital,” he said.
Adkins and Born then showed the Soldiers how to respond to both the aircraft and its crew safely in the noise and wind of a real MEDEVAC operation under spinning rotors.
“It's been an outstanding opportunity for us to learn how to load a patient into the bird,” said Sgt. Lester Gresham, a civil affairs noncommissioned officer with the 361st.
Satisfied that the Soldiers were proficient in understanding how to handle a casualty with a whirling Blackhawk ambulance, the aircrew then gave a few lucky Soldiers some rides around Camp Normandy.
They performed about a half dozen “dust-offs” and overflights of the training ranges with landings, passenger exchanges and take-offs.
Staff Sgt. Angela Morrow, a training NCO with the 361st and one of the organizers of the event, said the 12th CAB added great value during this month´s training.
“It was some awesome battle assembly training down in Grafenwoehr,” she said.
On the final dust-off round, the commander of the 361st CAB, Col. Carlos E. Gorbea, bade farewell and thanks to the medical aviators by presenting the unit coin to Born.
“We’re doing real live MEDEVAC training with real helicopters provided by the 12th CAB,” said Gorbea.
“They were really eager to come out and help train us here at Camp Normandy,” he said, adding that it only took a call and an email to get the 12th CAB’s support.
Gorbea also said that some of his Soldiers enjoyed their first helicopter flight this month and that realistic and exciting training keeps Soldiers serving.
As the helicopter noise receded, the civil affairs team formed up and moved out to the firing ranges to qualify on their weapons and complete their battle assembly training objectives.