Saber Article Index

2007 Sep-Oct

MEDEVAC 15th Med\15th FSB
Mike Bodnar
307B N Main Copperas Cove, TX 76522
1704 254-542-1961

A correction to the last Saber column is that the captions for the photos should have been reversed. The SSG with red hair-hard to tell in black and white print-is the unidentified member. The dark haired trooper is "Bud" DAVIS.

This caused some confusion for Randy CAVANAUGH who sent a photo of someone who looks like the photo of "Bud" DAVIS, but is not. Now, we have a new unidentified trooper whom Randy says was in C 15th MED '67-'68. Dominick L. MAURO of Bridgeport, CT, signed the Guestbook and says that he, "Served as MEDIC with A Co., 15th. MED, Feb. '67 to '68."

Benjamin MITCHELL from Suitland, MD, notes, "Served with Co. C, 15 MED Bn., when it was 11th Air Assault Div. and as 1st Cav Div. Sailed to Vietnam on USNS UPSHUR 11 as part of the division. Remained with Co. C until my discharge from USA, June '66."

The TR0GD0N family in Asheboro, NC, writes, "Our brother, Ronnie TROGDON, was a crew chief on a MEDEVAC helicopter, (We think it was named 'Old Reliable'). Over forty years ago, one of Ronnie's friends came by to see our family and gave us the original sketch that was on the front of the helicopter. It was signed by 'Hatch.' Ronnie served with the 1st Air Cav., 15th MED Bn., and was killed June 19, 1967. Does anyone remember serving with our brother?" David FLOYD from Minnesota, comments, "This is a wonderful site. I have always been in awe of the care the MEDICS gave the troops of the 1st Cavalry Division. They were the only person that stood between life and death in the field, keeping us alive. These fine young men, the MEDEVAC birds, the hospital, doctors, nurses and staff, all enabled so many troopers to return to the states, alive! It would be an honor to list all the MEDICS who served with Alpha Company on the A 2-7 Cavalry Web site."

Tom LYONS, M.D. from Neenah, WI, says, "I was a physician with HSC in Phuoc Vinh from March to October 1970, along with Sid BOAZ, Frank TYCAST, incredibly funny dentist, Jake JACKSON; the Division Surgeon was Joe MCNANEY. Some of the MEDEVAC pilots I remember well were Ray 'The Hat' ZEPP, Simon MOJICA, Tommy TRIFIRO, Mike HAGERTY. I'm embarrassed to say I can't remember the names of the three MEDICS that accompanied me to Bu Dop during the May '70 Cambodian invasion. Perhaps this will jar a memory or two. Would like to hear from anyone whose path I may have crossed."

Webmaster Murray GIBBS informs us that, "The dates of the 2008 Reunion have been set for April 3-6, 2008. We are still working on a location and hotel. There is a major international airport used by Biloxi and Gulf Port cities. The temperature for Biloxi during that time will be a pleasant spring. Hurricane season can start as early as July. In May, the humidity begins to rise, and in June the heat index can be a lot higher than the temperature. April keeps us out of those items, and from the feedback I have been getting, a lot of members will be attending that never attended a Reunion before."

Bob REYNOLDS <> in San Diego, CA, signs he was a, "Crew chief, '67-'68 with HHC 15th MED." MEDEVAC, the Air Ambulance Platoon, was officially a part of HSC, 15th MED.

Captain Hook forwarded the Taji Times which contained the follow story of MEDEVAC today: "'Flying heroes bear red cross. Medical evacuation crews work long hours to airlift wounded combat troops.' By Spc. Nathan HOSKINS 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs Office CAMP TAJI, Iraq.

"It doesn't matter that the weather conditions have grounded every other aircraft around Baghdad. It doesn't matter that there are hostile forces near the landing zone. The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division's medical evacuation crews take off in their helicopters because they have a mission: to save a life.

"The Soldiers of Company C, 2nd 'Lobo' Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, feel that their job is worth the extra risks and worth the extra effort to get up in the air, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jeremy TURNER, a MEDEVAC pilot for Co. C, who hails from Rockwell, N.C.

"It wasn't a particularly busy day on the airfield due to the weather when Co. C got a call recently. There were two soldiers from 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, a task force attached to the 2nd BCT, 82nd Airborne Division, who needed to be evacuated due to serious injuries sustained in an improvised explosive device attack, he said.

"Just three days prior, the MEDEVAC team suffered the tremendous loss of one of their comrades. Sgt. William BROWN, a MEDEVAC crew chief, was killed during an indirect fire attack. BROWN was tending to an aircraft when enemy fires came in, killing him instantly. With the loss of their friend still weighing heavy on their hearts, the pilots and crew chiefs of Co. C still had a job to do.

"'The job has to get done. (Sgt.) BROWN is missed every day, but there are many more men and women out there like him that expect us to be there,' said TURNER. Still, even with this tenacity to fly into the unknown and save soldiers, there are some conditions that are just too dangerous to fly into, and this was one of those days...or was it?

"A minimum distance of three miles of visibility is what is necessary for other pilots to take off, but this day there was only about a half-mile visibility due to a dense dust storm, grounding all MEDEVAC birds from Balad to Kuwait, said TURNER. "Although the dangers were a reality, there were still soldiers in the field at risk of dying without their aid, so TURNER and his chain of command discussed it, he said.

"With permission all the way from the brigade commander, the mission was green-lighted, said TURNER.

"'When poor weather and very limited visibility grounds the Air Force and brings all other aircraft back to base...the only aircraft (crew) that will risk themselves day or night, in combat, boils down to the MEDEVAC team,' said Reno, NV, native Lt. Col. Christopher JOSLIN, the 'Lobo' commander.

"Flying in miserable weather and in hostile skies is normal for the MEDEVAC teams, said TURNER.

"'That's where soldiers usually get hurt. It's never on a sunny day, right by the beach. They're out there doing the fighting, we're there to try and make sure they make it back in from the fight, if we're called,' he said.

"Within mere minutes after getting the go ahead from their command, TURNER and his crew were up and on their way to the scene, said TURNER.

"One of the super-human traits of a MEDEVAC team is being able to run up their aircraft and be in the air in 10 minutes or less, said JOSLIN.

"'Most aviators that fly UH-60 (Black Hawks) outside of the MEDEVAC community doubt that (timeframe) is really possible,' said Joslin. 'The only crews I have ever seen do that are MEDEVAC crews and the chase crews that have been trained by MEDEVAC crews.'

"Ten minutes later, the Black Hawk was landing at its destination to pick up the wounded soldiers. Less than 10 minutes after that, they were landing at the local Combat Support Hospital, said TURNER.

"One of the two soldiers delivered to the hospital, required extensive surgery to address his wounds. The pair survived the hazards of war because of the MEDEVAC's timely response and selfless service, said Capt. Jared PURCELL, the public affairs officer for Task Force 1-26.

"'During combat operations over the last year, Air MEDEVAC units have risked their lives to save the lives of TF 1-26 soldiers,' he said. 'They move to the sound of the guns, and do what it takes to get to the patient.'

"The Soldiers of Co. C see the bloodiest part of battle nearly every day - it's their job. Even so, there has to be a release, a time to put it all away and focus on things a little less dark, said TURNER, who was a Navy Corpsman for 11 years before joining the Army and flying MEDEVAC helicopters.

"'I've, unfortunately, gotten hardened to (the sight of the injured and dead). It still catches up and hurts every once in a while, but you just can't dwell (on it),' he said.

"Although this mission had a happy ending - both soldiers survived - others don't end so well, said TURNER.

"The MEDICS are the ones who are affected the most because they do all they can to save the patients' lives, but sometimes it's to no avail, he said.

"'(The MEDEVAC members) won't talk about the impact on themselves when the injuries are so bad that, despite their best efforts, they cannot save the patient, or (they) arrive only to find that the patient has already died,' said JOSLIN. "Soldiers are not the only ones who benefit from the expertise of the MEDEVAC teams, said JOSLIN.

"'Hundreds of soldiers, Iraqis, contractors, civilians and even the enemy, would not be alive today if it were not for the extraordinary individual and collective feats we ask these American heroes to do on a daily, routine basis,' he said.

"The terrorists who fired the mortars that killed BROWN would get the same treatment as a soldier who was trying to protect the innocent Iraqis.

"After picking up and dropping off their patients, the MEDEVAC team will sometimes head on to other missions that came up while they were out, or they'll just head on home to wait for the next call. "In most cases, the crew never knows the eventual outcome of the patient they dropped off.

"However, if TURNER could say something to one of the hundreds of lives he has helped save, he said it might go something like this: 'Good to see you and thank you for you're sacrifices...can I buy you a beer?'

"JOSLIN refers to his MEDEVAC teams as 'the closest thing to angels on earth,' but TURNER, like most modest heroes, won't admit that what he does is special.

"'We're just regular people doing our job - saving soldiers, Marines, Airmen, and even civilians - is our job,' said TURNER.'"

This should all sound familiar to MEDEVAC Vietnam. A well served tradition.

Always remembering our 1st Cav troops on duty around the world; over and out.

Mike Bodnar C 2\7 '69
MEDEVAC 1-7\70

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