Thursday, January 18, 2018

Airmen Operate ‘Flying Ambulances’ for Evacuation Missions

By Air Force Master Sgt. Philip Speck 379th Air Expeditionary Wing

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar, Jan. 18, 2018 — The 379th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron deployed here is one of only two aeromedical evacuation squadrons in the U.S. Central Command area of operations available to remove wounded warriors from the battlefield and ensure they get the medical care they need.

Air Force Lt. Col. Julia Moretti, commander of the 379th EAES, said the unit’s job is to transport wounded warriors from a lower to a higher echelon of care.

“We take them from the battlefield all the way home,” Moretti said.

If military personnel are wounded or become ill on the battlefield, they initially receive first aid care. If lifesaving surgery is needed, the patients are flown to the nearest hospital abroad. That is where the 379th EAES comes in. The unit brings the injured service members here. If they require more intensive care, they will then be transported to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. And as a last resort, they will then go back to the United States if they can’t be fully treated overseas.

“The goal is to keep them at the lowest level of care, rehab them and then get them back into the fight quickly as possible,” said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Matthew Ausfeld, the 379th EAES first sergeant.

Critical Care Air Transport Teams

In addition to its aeromedical evacuation teams, the squadron also has critical care air transport teams -- specialized medical teams composed of a doctor, an intensive care nurse and a respiratory therapist.

If patients can be treated and return to work while deployed, they will stay in the theater. But if they have a more severe condition and could not physically manage doing office work as they recover, they will return stateside.

As the war has progressed, the severity, type and numbers of injuries have decreased significantly. In the early 2000s, the teams would care for 20 to 30 patients who would require litter transport. “Now, that is the exception, and we’re glad to see we aren’t having that many now,” Moretti said.

Aeromedical evacuation teams are made up of two nurses and three medical technicians, all considered flight crew. On top of the medical expertise they must know and practice, they also need to know all about the aircraft they are flying on. They have to know how to put together seats, install stanchions to hold patient litters and how the electricity works for their machines aboard the aircraft, among many other details.

AE teams are also required to have the knowledge to perform their duties on a wide variety of Air Force aircraft, such as the KC-135 Stratotanker, C-130 Hercules, C-17 Globemaster III, C-5 Galaxy and C-21.

Total Force Partnership

The AE teams here exemplify total force integration; active duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard members combine to create the medical teams. In fact, only a small percentage of the teams are made up of active duty service members.

“The Guard and Reserve components are a key part in the aeromedical evacuation world,” Moretti said. “Around 88 percent of AE is Guard and Reserve augmenting active duty. It’s a team effort with all the components to transport and care for our wounded warriors.”

Moretti and Ausfeld said the job is rewarding.

“It’s a great feeling helping our wounded warriors,” Moretti said. “Taking care of our own that were injured or became sick while protecting us, it’s a small way to give back. We pamper the patients and give them the best tender loving care we can.”
“I've moved wounded warriors around the world, some with severe battle injuries,” Ausfeld said. “They'll look you in the eyes and thank you for what you're doing for them. It can catch you off guard, and it can be hard to respond to. Because these warriors -- these sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters -- have sacrificed their body and soul. We're just making sure they get home.”

DoD Seeks to Connect With America Through ‘This Is Your Military’ Initiative

By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 18, 2018 — The Defense Department is launching an initiative  called “This Is Your Military” to highlight the work of service members, dispel myths about military service, and increase awareness among the American people, the deputy assistant to the secretary of defense for outreach announced today.
Graphic art of service members.

The effort, which kicks off Feb. 1, aims to introduce the American people to the 1 percent of the population serving, Amber Smith said at a Bipartisan Policy Center panel discussion titled “Warrior Caste: Who Will Serve in America’s Future Military?”

"We want to showcase how the military is relevant to Americans’ lives on a daily basis, and how innovative the department is, and how we’re a force for good," she said.

Internal data indicate the civilian-military divide is expanding, she noted. "That ultimately is a threat to the viability and the sustainability of the all-volunteer force, which in the long term has some national security risks,” Smith explained.

Sharing the Military Story

The “This Is Your Military” effort will highlight missions the American people might not connect the military to, Smith said, such as hurricane relief efforts in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico.

Further, Smith said, DoD wants to dispel misperceptions about military life – for example, that people leave service physically or emotionally broken. Also, she said, incorrect information is out there about what jobs women can serve in and that characterizes military life as lonely and not family friendly.

“We just want to get the facts out there, and in doing so, balance the scale,” Smith said. “So, yes, people might still be familiar with the negatives, but they're also familiar with the positives that come along with serving.”

The effort aims to reach people who are not familiar with the military or may not know the positives of service, she explained. “We really want to articulate a message of what the military is doing, tell that military story to a nonmilitary audience, and really create some interest for people who don't necessarily care,” she added.

External Outreach on Various Platforms

Outreach efforts will include coverage of sporting events and military engagements, as well as videos, photos, graphics and other products, Smith said.

The initiative will conduct outreach on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, all tied together with the #KnowYourMil hashtag. 

Each month, the initiative will highlight an aspect of military life such as military jobs and benefits, entrepreneurism and innovation, global missions and family life.

The initiative will work with all the military services and leverage their existing outreach programs as well, she said.

Face of Defense: Marine Rescues 4 People From Rip Current in Okinawa

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Charles Plouffe, 3rd Marine Division

CAMP SCHWAB, OKINAWA, Japan, Jan. 18, 2018 — A Marine received the nation's highest medal for non-combat heroism during a ceremony here, Jan. 8.

Marine Corps 1st Lt. Aaron Cranford, a supply officer with Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for saving four divers, including a local Okinawan, who were caught in a rip current during a recreational dive at Onna Point, Okinawa, Japan, on April 23, 2017.

Distressed Divers

Cranford surfaced from a 35-minute dive and noticed three distressed divers caught in a surf zone about to be swept out to sea by a rip current.

After he ensured his dive group had reached a safe point to exit the water, Cranford returned to the surf zone at risk to his own life to begin rescuing the divers one by one.

“I could definitely tell that the divers were in distress,” said Cranford, a native of Fort Worth, Texas. “Their gear was not the way it should have been and they were waving their arms back and forth trying to get people’s attention.”

One local Okinawan said he believes he wouldn’t be alive today without Cranford’s help.

‘I Knew I Was Going to Die’

“I just knew I was going to die," said Okinawa City native, Justin Kinjo. “My leg was stuck. I couldn’t get any air, and as soon as I reached the surface the waves pushed me back in -- knocking my [air] regulator out of my mouth.”

For his courageous actions, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller awarded Cranford the highest non-combat decoration for heroism.

“1st Lt. Cranford is a superb representative of the United States Marine Corps,” said Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Craig Q. Timberlake, the 3rd Marine Division’s commanding general.
Cranford’s actions “took a lot of guts and a lot of courage,” Timberlake added. “He reflects a United States Marine doing what a United States Marine does.”