Unit schedules its first all-female MEDEVAC team
December 2, 2009
COB ADDER, Iraq (Dec. 1, 2009) - In the three days before Thanksgiving, one of the on-alert crews for Task Force Keystone made history at Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq, as the first all-female MEDEVAC crew ever for their company.
"There must have been another all-female MEDEVAC crew somewhere, but I haven't seen one," said Chief Warrant Officer Andrea Galatian, the pilot.
The odds are slim for such a crew to come up on rotation, said Maj. David Mattimore, commander, "C" Company, 3-238th MEDEVAC, from Hampton, N.H.
"It would not have been possible until one of our avionics sergeants became a crew chief," he said.
That crew chief is also the newest name on the flight roster: Sgt. Debra Lukan, 43, of Keene, N.H. She enlisted just after 9/11.
"I just barely made the age cutoff," said Lukan.
She trained as an avionics mechanic and just recently switched from the shop to flight crew. Lukan deployed to Camp Speicher and Tikrit from 2005 to 2006 and served in the avionics field.
Lukan said she is happy to be on the flight rotation this time.
"My family doesn't know I'm flying," Lukan said. "They worry a lot, but I suppose I'll have to tell them eventually."
In the civilian world, Lukan is a federal technician in avionics for the New Hampshire National Guard.
Staff Sgt. Misty Seward, 30, of Owosso, Mich, agreed with Galation on the uniqueness of the crew.
"Same for me," she said. "Never flew with an all-girl crew."
In fact, with a total of nine deployments amongst them and between eight and 12 years of service apiece, this is still a first-time experience for the entire crew, said Capt. Trish Barker, the operations officer.
Seward enlisted in 1998 and has served as a medic for 11 years. She has four years as a flight medic and seven on the ground. She deployed to Kuwait from 2001 to 2002 and to Baghdad from 2006 to 2007, both tours as a ground medic.
When she returns from her current tour, Seward will resume her job as a security officer at a level-one trauma clinic in Lansing, Mich., part of Sparrow Health Systems.
Galatian enlisted in 1997 and served five years as an administrative clerk before going to flight school in 2002. She has served seven years as a pilot, including a deployment to Bosnia in 2005.
As a civilian, Galatian is the business analyst for the real estate division of the Michigan Department of Transportation.
Barker, 30, enlisted in 1999 as an aircraft fueler. She went to Officer Candidate School in 2003 and Flight School in 2004.
A native of Menominee, Mich., she was deployed to Bosnia in 2005 as a MEDEVAC section leader.
When she returns from this deployment, she will resume her job as the state occupational health specialist for the Michigan Army National Guard.
"It may be months before this crew comes up in the rotation again," said Mattimore. "We only have nine female flight crew members and everyone rotates to our remote bases, so the odds of them being back together again are low."
Still, the crew is happy to have had the experience.
"I'm glad we got a chance to be first," said Barker, "even if it is just first for us."