MEDEVAC Soldiers Rescue Iraqi Policemen From Burning Building
By Sgt. 1st Class Brent Hunt
Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division
CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Medical evacuation Soldiers from the Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, rescued four Iraqi national police officers from the rooftop of a burning building at Joint Security Station Oubaidy in eastern Baghdad.
The Fort Hood, Texas, based air ambulance crew from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 4th Avn. Regiment, medically evacuated the policemen trapped on top of the building and transported them to a combat support hospital for further treatment.
“We got the call for a MEDEVAC near Sadr City for a hoist rescue,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 James Frederick, aeromedical evacuation instructor pilot from Groves, Texas.
“When we launched our aircraft we hooked up with the Apache’s for protection. When we got there, we saw a possible place for a landing spot, but the roof wasn’t good for landing so we decided to hover and hoist them up.
“The helicopter was seven feet above the roof and we used the hoist as a step ladder as Bonsu pulled them up into the aircraft.”
As Spc. Lakwan Bonsu, crew chief from Bronx, N.Y., was pulling the policemen into the aircraft, the flight medic on board was treating the officers.
“The first ones coming in were tapping their chest, because they had smoke inhalation,” said Staff Sgt. Christina Martinez, flight medic from Alamogordo, N.M. “I pretty much just gave them oxygen until we got to the hospital. You could see the terror on their faces when they were being rescued. After we rescued them, they were hugging each other, giving us high-fives and shaking our hands.”
The national police officers were treated for fire-related injuries, but none were seriously injured.
“This mission was quite a testament to working as a team,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Matthew Nall, aeromedical evacuation pilot from Lubbock, Texas. “It took our whole crew to get this done. The Apaches, who provided us protection, were a great deterrent against ground fire.”
The “Lonestar” dustoff company of the CAB is in the midst of its fourth deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Saving lives on the battlefield is the sole mission of the company. They facilitate the safest and most rapid evacuation of all casualties to include Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, civilians and even prisoners of war.
Some of their evacuations take them to the most dangerous parts of the battlefield including rescuing casualties from roadside bomb attacks, force against force casualties and suicide bomb attacks.
In addition, the pilots have to find a way to get to the casualties in some of the trickiest landing zones.
“This wasn’t a normal mission, because until recently ground and air assests didn’t go into Sadr City together,” said Frederick. “I would assume that we were able to do that because the security situation has improved. I’ve been flying since 2001 and although we only hovered for two minutes, it felt like the longest hover I’ve ever experienced. There was a tremendous amount of debris which made this very difficult.”
Although the mission was tough, the Soldiers aboard the aircraft knew what they had to do and they kicked it into another gear.
“When you are saving people, you just don’t think about it,” said Martinez. “You just do it.”