AMARAH, Iraq - One day, Donald Crider was teaching high school physics in Seattle; The next, he's assigned to 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Long Knife Brigade, tasked with the mission to fly helicopters in southeastern Iraq.

Cider, a Major in the Inactive Ready Reserve, was activated six months ago to deploy with the 126th Aviation Regiment as a MEDEVAC pilot. He flies UH-60 Black Hawks on medical missions.

"We are here for the Soldiers (and) to make sure we can respond to any kind of medical help they would need," Crider explained. He added that his transition from the classroom to the cockpit only intensified his motivation to help the Soldiers here. "It's moving to know you are the difference between someone living and dying."

The Seattle native was helping students learn physics the last five years, but now, his job is to help Long Knife Soldiers feel secure on the Iraqi battlefield.

Soldiers stationed in Maysan province are partnered with the local Iraqi Security Forces to stop weapons smuggling along the Iraqi-Iranian southeastern border.

Soldiers, ISF and civilians in the province can take comfort in knowing the 126th Avn. Regt. is ready to swoop in, pick up the injured and evacuate them to the nearest Combat Support Hospital should it be necessary. Crider and his fellow MEDEVAC Soldiers stand ready everyday to provide swift medical care to Soldiers.

Having invested 15 years into the military, he understands the need to get injured troops into medical hands quickly. "Knowing the military has given me the capabilities to make a difference to get within that golden hour and help someone, it's awe-striking," said Crider.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16