FORT HOOD, Texas (Army News Service, Oct. 24, 2006) - Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center accepted this year's Bell County Judge's Meritorious Service Award during a ceremony Oct. 18 for its outstanding role of medical evacuation efforts and subsequent care for Soldiers returning from battle in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 26th annual Bell County Judge and Commissioners' Committee on People with Disabilities ceremony honored those people who have made great contributions and accomplishments in dealing with a disability or helping those who do.

Master Sgt. Rod Temple, noncommissioned-officer-in-charge of the Patient Administration Division, received the award on behalf of CRDAMC, flanked by Lt. Col. Lawrence Finley, the PAD officer-in-charge, and Regina Foster, lead admissions clerk and a member of the evacuations team.

Known as Operation Gentle Landing, the evacuations began in 2003 and continue today. The returning Soldiers are wounded, injured or ill.

"In four historic years, America has been given great tasks and faced them with strength and courage," Temple said. "Our people have restored the vigor of this economy, and shown resolve and patience in a new kind of war.

"Our Soldiers have brought justice to the enemy and honor to America. Our nation has defended itself, and served the freedom of all mankind," he said. "I'm proud to be a part of Team Darnall and such an amazing country."

The Operation Gentle Landing term technically applies to when 10 or more Soldiers are evacuated here, a CRDAMC official said. CRDAMC personnel provided both medical and social services, the official said.

More than 2,500 medical evacuees have come to CRDAMC for treatment. With less than 20 percent actually admitted, the remaining Soldiers assigned a case manager and released to their units and families.