Navy corpsman chief vital to Army missions
January 29, 2013
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - During normal combat patrol missions, a U.S. Army medic accompanies an Army unit. The Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team, however, is not a normal unit. Comprised of Army, Navy, U.S. State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, Agriculture, and other entities, the KPRT is the definition of a joint organization. Among these, the Navy medical section is a healthy compliment to this joint force.
When Afghans in Kandahar see the KPRT, it is likely that U.S. Navy Chief Hospital (Surface Warfare/Air Warfare) Corpsman Jay Thrailkill is nearby.
"Corpsmen are like jumper cables," said Thrailkill. "We aren't needed until the battery goes, but no matter what, we're always ready."
A prior X-ray technician, Thrailkill is the KPRT's senior enlisted corpsman and has completed more than half of all mounted combat missions since October. He must be familiar with Army infantry tactics and procedures in order to be effective at his job.
"Chief makes my job easier by going above and beyond what is expected of him," said Navy Lt. jg. Jessica Friddle, senior medical officer of the KPRT. "His background in preventative medicine helps to ensure that the safety of our unit is always a priority."
Friddle, a native of Virginia Beach, Va., teaches combat lifesaver refresher classes to ensure that members are fully prepared in the event medical personnel are not immediately available in an emergency.
U.S. Army Medic Spc. Jerome Jaquis, their trusted Army counterpart, is currently deployed as a member of the KPRT's security force. Jaquis, who is stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, in C Company, 4-17 Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armor Division, covers the missions that Thrailkill isn't on.
With most of their brothers-in-arms being CLS certified, the team would have ample assistance, if needed.
As the KPRT ventures throughout Kandahar province, Chief Thrailkill finds that his best times in Afghanistan are when he is out on mission.
"My primary role is to be ready," said Thrailkill. "Most of my work is done from the vehicle, unless the mission requires that we have a long walk."
Various duties keep Thrailkill busy as he medically prepares the vehicles for anything that could go wrong. He checks his equipment before each mission, and inventories each week.
This is not the first time Thrailkill has worked in the interservice realm, with seven deployments under his belt. He has served two tours in Japan, Kuwait, Williamsburg, Va., as well as on the USS Kittyhawk, USS Kearsarge, and USS Theodore Roosevelt.
His service brings the KPRT more than 22 years of medical experience working in the joint environment. Working with a PRT is a challenging new way to enhance the overall mission.
When not on mission, Thrailkill spends time volunteering at the Post Exchange. He is also completing the few remaining courses for his bachelor's degree in healthcare management.
He is permanently stationed in Naples, Italy, with his wife of nine years, Khampha.