JTF-Odyssey Guard transports wounded Libyan freedom fighters to Boston
November 1, 2011
TRIPOLI, Libya -- In response to a request to the U.S. State Department from the provisional Libyan government, a Mississippi Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster aircraft transported 22 wounded Libyan freedom fighters to Boston, Oct. 29, where they are being treated at a local medical center.
Wounded Libyan fighters traveled from Tripoli in the C-17 configured to be a flying hospital; complete with a doctor, nurse and medical specialists from the U.S. Air Force's 10th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Flight. Military and civilian Arabic interpreters helped the medical team breach any language barriers during the transport flight to Boston.
Prior to take-off, U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Gene A. Cretz bid the patients farewell and acknowledged the strife and challenges freedom fighters and Libyan citizens have endured.
"After 42 years of oppression and eight months of struggle and sacrifice, the Libyan people have now liberated their country," Cretz said. "As one who lived here before the revolution, I can truly appreciate the difference -- a closed country is now open, new voices are being heard and motivated Libyans everywhere are working hard to safeguard their new freedom. But even as Libyans have thrown off the yoke of dictatorship, the country has paid a steep price. Many have been killed during the revolution and still more are seriously wounded," Cretz said.
Staff Sgt. Ron Rogers is a California Air National Guardsman working on a four-month deployment with the 10th EAEF.
Rogers sees the medical evacuation as a way of creating an avenue of friendship and cooperation between Libyan and American people. "I'm not into politics, but this flight can be considered a way of opening the door of freedom for Libyans. And we'll have the opportunity to make some friends in this part of the world," Rogers, a resident of Pasadena, Calif., said.
Another flight transported four critical cases of injured Libyan freedom fighters to Germany for immediate care.
"Setting up for this mission was challenging," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Rhett Blue, a native of Pert, Texas and the medical crew director for his team. "The injuries we're seeing with these men have similarities with combat injuries we see with our troops who are returning from Afghanistan. The difference is that some of these people didn't get immediate medical treatment," Blue said.
Coordination and planning of the two humanitarian flights came under the auspices of Joint Task Force Odyssey Guard, commanded by Maj. Gen. David R. Hogg.
"This is the first aeromedical humanitarian assistance mission for the joint task force," Hogg said. "We are honored to help those in need and this experience will assist us in planning and coordinating future missions."