By Staff Sgt. Todd L. Pouliot, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade PAO NCOICJuly 19, 2012
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- When Army helicopters arrive overhead during a firefight below, friendly forces are filled with a surge of confidence, said Fort Drum's top infantryman, Maj. Gen. Mark A. Milley, Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division (LI) commander.
"When you're in a firefight, you call for God and you call for Army aviation," Milley said. "Our aviators change the dynamic of the fight. Now you as the infantry know you're going to win; know you're going to live."
Milley presented awards for valor to 18 aviators from 10th Combat Aviation Brigade during a ceremony June 29, at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield, for their brave actions supporting ground operations in Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Brian D. Cammack, a flight medic with C Company, 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, received the Distinguished Flying Cross during the ceremony for his bravery while extracting from the battlefield six wounded Americans and three killed in action.
On March 29, 2011, Cammack's crew received a call to pick up casualties at two separate locations. At the first location, Cammack was lowered by hoist to assess the injured and prepare them for extraction.
Cammack remained on the ground, treating wounded, while two critically wounded American Soldiers were taken to a nearby medical facility. The ground unit continued to take hostile fire from several directions.
"I had so much adrenaline going through me I didn't feel much until after the mission," Cammack said.
Once all of the casualties were picked up, Cammack and his crew went to the second site: the roof of a mud building occupied by American infantrymen. Under hostile fire, the helicopter landed on the roof and the casualty was pulled on board to be taken to the nearby medical facility.
In all, Cammack was responsible for the extraction of six critically wounded American Soldiers and the retrieval of three American Soldiers killed in action that day.
"We were able to make a difference that day," he said. "They were pinned down, taking fire from all directions; they took many casualties."
Cammack credited his fellow crew members and the extensive training they had conducted at Fort Drum for the success of this medevac operation and added that he would never forget those who died in the firefight that day.
Col. Pedro G. Almeida, 10th CAB commander, said that despite the numerous awards that were presented to the unit's aviators, it must not be forgotten what the Soldiers are asked to do almost daily in combat.
"It's so common that we often forget what we're asking them to do," Almeida said. "These aviators have shown uncommon valor and represent the best."
In addition to the award presented to Cammack, 17 other Soldiers were presented Air Medals with Valor at the ceremony: Capt. Jeffrey Gray, Capt. Thomas G. Jones, 1st Lt. Thomas Terry, Chief Warrant Officer 5 William E. Butler Jr., Chief Warrant Officer 5 Matthew Carmichael, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Tavis D. Anderson, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Daniel Berriochoa, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stefen S. Blasingame, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Alvin Melvin, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Steven D. Badgley, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Gazda, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Sean Hennessy, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Benjamin Locke, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Fernand P. Muffoletto, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Derrick Rodriguez, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Justin Seimet and Spc. David Capps.
Their heroic actions ranged from safely flying an aircraft damaged by a rocket-propelled gren-ade, providing aerial cover to ground units under hostile fire, and operating a medevac hoist multiple times while receiving fire.