Medevac in Afghanistan Can Mean Life or Death

From: Arizona Daily Star

EDITOR’S NOTE: Associated Press photographer Brennan Linsley recently spent a week embedded with Charlie Company, from the 6th Battalion and 101st Aviation Regiment, known as Shadow Dustoff. He describes the work of Army medevac teams in the war zone of southern Afghanistan.

HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan – It was pushing dusk when the call came: “One Category Alpha.” The voice crackled over the radio, urgent but matter-of-fact. Translation: One man severely wounded, medical care needed right away.

The medical evacuation team – a pilot, co-pilot, crew chief, flight medic and, on this day, an AP photographer – scrambled into the Black Hawk helicopter. In a few minutes we were zigzagging at more than 150 mph, the fields and mud compounds blurring past like a movie in fast forward. The crew chief held up two fingers: Distance from landing zone, two minutes.

Landing amid gunfire

As darkness fell, the Marines ignited a colored smoke grenade to mark the landing zone. The Black Hawk touched down only to be fired on by insurgents hiding nearby, despite the clear red cross marked on its nose and sides. It rose again and circled.

When it landed the second time, the crew chief threw open the side door to a storm of dust. Within seconds the Marines hauled aboard their comrade, who had a gunshot wound to the head.

The helicopter flew off, low and fast under fire. The medic went straight to work. But the wound was too severe.

The Marine died. Lance Cpl. Ross S. Carver of Rocky Point, N.C., was 21 years old.


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