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Patriotic Article
By USAF TSgt. Joseph Kapinosr

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Kandahar Airmen Fly Missions Of Mercy
(October 20, 2009)

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KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (10/16/2009 - AFNS) -- They are the "Angels of the Battlefield," medics dedicated to transporting wounded U.S. and coalition servicemembers, as well as locals to the medical care they need.
Airmen transport Afghan patients from an HC-130 Hercules at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan Oct. 6, 2009. These Airmen are assigned to the 451st Aeromedical Squadron at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
Airmen transport Afghan patients from an HC-130 Hercules at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan Oct. 6, 2009. These Airmen are assigned to the 451st Aeromedical Squadron at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.  U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Angelita Lawrence
"It's our job to take care of these wounded warriors," said Maj. Dawn Rice, a flight nurse and medical director assigned to the 451st Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron.

"We take great pride in getting people the top-notch care they deserve. Our country, our military will do whatever it takes to get people to the proper medical facilities.

"We want people to know this," she added. "Hopefully it will give them some comfort when they are outside the wire fighting the enemy."

Air evacuation is a detailed process with the aircrew acting as the most visible link in the chain. The process typically begins at a local level.

"The primary mission at the smaller field hospitals is simply stabilizing the patient," said Chief Master Sgt. John Trujillo, the 451st AES superintendent. "Once that has been accomplished and it has been determined the patient needs to be moved to another more capable hospital, then it's our job to get them there."

While caring for wounded servicemembers is the primary mission for the crews, they show the same amount of dedication to even the smallest victims of the fighting in the country. Sometimes they even show more.

The squadron recently flew a 9-year-old Afghan girl and her 13-year-old brother from a major hospital at Bagram Airfield to a base in Southern Afghanistan. She had been at the hospital at Bagram for two months recovering from injuries she received during a mortar attack on her village. Prior to the U.S. military stepping in, her brother had been tasked with her care, replacing the bandages on her legs and overseeing her well-being.

As she was brought aboard the aircraft for her flight, nurses from Bagram said their tearful goodbyes as the crewmembers gave the children gifts and treats, bringing out their smiles.

Looking at the children, the major spoke about this moment and how it transcended geographical borders and political differences; how it was truly a moment of human compassion. The care that was being given was not just between Americans and Afghans, or adults and children, but human beings taking care of each other.

"This is why we do what we do," Major Rice said softly. "These are the moments we live for."

By USAF TSgt. Joseph Kapinosr
U.S. AFCENT Combat Camera Team
Copyright 2009

Reprinted from Air Force News Service

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