ILLESHEIM, Germany – Four U.S. Soldiers and one flight surgeon aboard a CH-47F Chinook helicopter provided aid to a local German citizen in a car accident, Dec. 15.
The crew is assigned to B Company, 6th General Support Aviation Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
The crew had recently completed training and was headed home to Illesheim, Germany, where they are headquartered while supporting Atlantic Resolve.
Little did the crew know that they would execute a real-life emergency landing, which they have had countless hours of training to prepare for.
“We were flying over a ridgeline in a rural area,” said Chief Warrant Officer Dave Acton, a pilot. “Once we cleared it, my crew chief in the back came on the comms system and said he saw a puff of white smoke on the road below.”
“After I called that in, I looked further down the road and saw a car roll over two or three times, “said Spc. Bruce Cook, a crew chief.
The Soldiers decided they needed to do whatever they could to help and asked the air mission commander to break away. Within seconds, the Chinook circled back to provide assistance.
“It was like we all simultaneously thought the same thing… that the right thing to do was to assist however we could,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Riedel, a pilot. “I like to think its natural human instinct to want to stop and help in any way that you can.”
The crew landed close to the scene so Maj. Benjamin Stork, the brigade flight surgeon, could assess the situation and provide care until more help arrived.
As soon as the helicopter was safely on the ground, Stork jumped out and ran to the scene.
“I checked my medical pack attached to my vest to make sure I had everything I might need to stabilize possible injuries,” said Stork. “Once I got to the man in the crash, I checked his vitals and made sure he was cognizant; thankfully, he spoke English pretty well because my German is pretty broken.”
An ambulance arrived moments after Stork stabilized the motorist’s neck and back. He gave his report to the paramedics, helped them transfer the man to the ambulance and then ran back to the Chinook. In total, he reported to being on the ground for about 10 minutes.
“All in all, from noticing the car flip to getting the wheels up off the ground, about 30 minutes passed,” said Stork. “Every piece of the operation felt organic, smooth and controlled because of how well these guys talk to each other.”
“We are in Europe in support of Atlantic Resolve, and for the most part that means that we train together with our ally and partner military forces,” said Col. Travis Habhab, commander of the 101st CAB. “I think that an important part of building that partnership and trust also lies in connecting with and supporting the local community where we can. The level we train at is what allows us to let these types of responses happen organically, and I’m incredibly proud of our Wings of Destiny Soldiers for making the call to help someone in a situation that could have been much worse.”
Since April 2014, U.S. Army Europe has led the Department of Defense’s Atlantic Resolve land efforts by bringing units based in the U.S. to Europe for nine months at a time. The deployment of ready, combat-credible U.S. forces to Europe in support of Atlantic Resolve is evidence of the strong and unremitting U.S. commitment to NATO and Europe. Through bilateral, joint and multinational training, Atlantic Resolve builds readiness, increases interoperability and enhances the bond between ally and partner nations.