August 8, 2012
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHUKVANI, Afghanistan -- Imagine you are part of a MEDEVAC crew and just started your 24-hour work day. A crackle of the radio causes the crew to tense as they expect to hear 3 words come over the radio, "MEDEVAC, MEDEVAC, MEDEVAC!" Once the call comes in, adrenaline starts pumping and now they have someone else's life in their hands. What if on top of that kind of day, you were told you had to move your entire camp and operations to another forward operating base, without skipping a beat?
This is exactly what Soldiers from Company C, 1st Battalion, 169th Aviation Regiment currently attached to the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, did while transitioning from FOB Edinburgh to FOB Shukvani in late July.
When most units need to move within theater, they operate on minimal resources in order to concentrate on the move. C/1-169th AVN did not have that luxury.
"During the transition between FOBs, we started running the first-up team out of Shukvani," said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Kent Sprague, a pilot with C/1-169th, originally from Nashville, Tenn. "When we first arrived here, we had to build up our tents and pads for the aircraft. The Marines out here have been great at helping us get settled."
While the first-up team was providing support from FOB Shukvani, additional MEDEVAC support was launched from FOB Edinburgh that allowed for a quicker and smoother transition between the FOBs.
One of the challenges that the company faced was the ability to perform maintenance at two locations with a limited set of tools.
"Most maintenance we can do here," said Staff Sgt. Mike Berry, a flight medic with C/1-169th AVN, a resident of Covington, Ga. "We get the parts we can replace brought to us on a ring route from Camp Dwyer. But for major maintenance, the aircraft have to be taken to Camp Dwyer or Kandahar Airfield."
Soldiers from C/1-169th AVN have continued to provide the same MEDEVAC support to RC-SW with the resources available at FOB Shukvani while still maintaining the aircraft, living quarters, medical supplies, and training.
"We have one of the most rewarding jobs in the Army," Sprague said. "We pick up wounded people, provided the treatment needed to keep them alive until they are received by the next level of medical care."