By Sgt. Cody Barber, 11th Public Affairs DetachmentSeptember 26, 2014
CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo (Sept. 20, 2014) -- A medevac crew from Multinational Battle Group-East's Southern Command Post put their hoist training to the test during a real-world event, which aided in the rescue of two European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) members.
U.S. Army Soldiers with F Company, 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment, Louisiana National Guard, rescued the two security officers who became stranded on a cliffside in Albania, Sept. 20.
The two men were recreational hiking when one fell and was injured. Unable to hike back off the mountain, the two requested help through their team's operations center, who in turn contacted MNBG-E for assistance.
For the medevac company commander, the opportunity to use training recently honed at Camp Bondsteel for real-world patients, meant the flight crew was able to respond appropriately under arduous conditions.
"The biggest factor in our success was that we had trained for this, and we had the opportunity to practice this kind of hoist in these very difficult conditions," said Maj. Andre Jeansonne, F Company commander and a native of Pineville, Louisiana.
Sgt. Paul Glankler, a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crew chief who manned the hoist during the rescue operation, was responsible for getting the patients into the helicopter safely.
"I'm very lucky that we had the training in the beginning of the deployment," said the Alexandria, Louisiana native. He also said that if it weren't for the training, he wouldn't have been as calm and collective as he was when rescuing the two individuals.
Jeansonne added the Balkans area is mountainous and rescuing individuals off a cliff side can be a dangerous task. During the initial months of the Kosovo Force 18 rotation, he wanted to make sure his Soldiers were well prepared. The company spent weeks training with German and Swiss counterparts on search and rescue tasks.
"When we got to Kosovo, we wanted to capitalize on the environment and continue flying and training," said Jeansonne. "We teamed up with the German and Swiss and they trained our crews and medics on mountain rescue techniques."
Jeansonne said the medevac crew worked flawlessly together to get the individuals to safety and without crew coordination, the rescue would not have gone as smoothly.
"This is the most intense crew-coordinated mission you could do in the aircraft; but my crew was prepared for it,' Jeansonne said.
As the "Bayou Dust-off" team nears the end of their deployment in Kosovo, Jeansonne added he is proud of what his team has accomplished here.
"I couldn't be more proud of not just the crew, but the entire unit here," said Jeansonne. "I'm glad we were able affect people's lives and help support the mission in Kosovo."