PADUCAH, Ky. – Maj. Katherine Sego, an emergency room nurse with the 936th Forward Resuscitative Surgical Team (FRST), bowed her head as the words of the invocation fill the room. Her unit, surrounded by family, friends and distinguished guests, was the focal point of an award ceremony highlighting the actions of the Soldiers as their time in Kabul, Afghanistan came to a close, as their time came to a close.
Lt. Gen. Jody J. Daniels, chief of Army Reserve and commanding general, U.S. Army Reserve Command, spoke about how pivotal the 936th FRST was to the success of U.S. armed forces’ withdrawal from the over two-decades long war in Afghanistan.
“Their medical expertise would be put to the test in the tenuous and volatile aftermath of the August 26th suicide bombing,” Daniels said. “This included trauma resuscitations, surgery and critical care to U.S., NATO coalition forces and Afghan civilians. They also augmented security personnel, transported wounded, distributed medical supplies—and watched over nearly 150 orphaned children amid the chaos.”
Daniels awarded 17 Army Reserve Soldiers with the Army Commendation Medal and the Combat Action Badge.
“The Soldiers we are recognizing today will move on in their careers and become important leaders and instructors who will be taking charge of the next generation of men and women who will serve in field hospitals, mobilize during contingencies, and be among the first called in a crisis,” Daniels said to a standing-room-only crowd.
The actions of the 936th FRST were critical to the successful evacuation of more than 120,000 U.S. citizens, allies, and refugees and they were some of the last medical Soldiers to redeploy from Afghanistan. Sego attributed the success of the unit and the mission to professionalism and compassion of her team.
“My team responded confidently and calmly. They focused on the mission and provided expert medical care while caring for refugees and assisting with base defense. They showed courage and compassion to others. Their reaction was exactly what I expected from them. They always demonstrate professionalism in all their actions.” Sego said. “I am so proud of this team. They provided expert medical care in a compassionate manner. I saw tremendous courage.”
For Sego, her thoughts are still affixed on her memories at the Hamid Karzai International Airport and perhaps, more notably, the attack on Aug. 26 that killed 13 U.S. servicemembers and an estimated 170 Afghans.
“I feel a number of emotions about these events,” Sego said. She cited a range of emotions centered on sadness, gratitude, and anger. “There are so many emotions that I cannot put them all into words.”
It was all smiles at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Paducah. Families and friends were excited to see their loved ones recognized for their actions in the face of imminent and consistent threats. However, for Sego and her team, they know the real battle starts now as they transition back to their civilian lives.
“That's been hard,” Sego said. “There are so many emotions tied to these events that the adjustment home has taken some time. Most of us are still processing these emotions.”
The combined weight of the Army Commendation Medal and Combat Action Badge is just under 3 ounces. The weight of what it took to earn these accolades, however, will be different for each member of the 936th FRST as they move forward.