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National Guard Pilots support MEDEVAC mission in Germany

Iowa National Guard Adjutant General, Maj. Gen Tim Orr, visits with his Soldiers assigned to A Co. 1-376 AVN BN deployed to Germany supporting real world MEDEVAC missions in Hohenfels and Grafenwoehr military bases (U.S. Army Photo by Capt. Joe Bush).

Story by Capt. Joseph Bush
Joint Multinational Readiness Center

GRAFENWOEHR, Germany (July 3, 2018) – A UH-72A Lakota hovers over the landing zone lowering its flight medic down about 100 feet to an open field below, here. Once clear, he rushes to the nearby ambulance to link up with the Grafenwoehr Army Health Clinic medical team to assess the simulated casualty and prepare it to be hoisted up to the helicopter for the emergency medical evacuation demonstration conducted on June 21, 2018.

Although this may seem like training as usual for any military installation, what makes this different is its being conducted by Nebraska and Iowa Army National Guard Soldiers with a Lakota instead of the usual UH-60 Black Hawk.

“We’ve taken it over from the active duty unit so they can be freed up to go do some training, and it gives us a chance to show our capabilities,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Courtney Miller, a Nebraska Army National Guard pilot, assigned to Delta Company, 1st Squadron, 376th Aviation Battalion, who flew the mission.

The Lakota air crews with 1-376th AVN BN took over the mission from an active duty Black Hawk unit, Charlie Company, 1st Squadron, 214th Aviation Battalion, so the UH-60 crews could participate in training missions such as Saber Strike in Poland.

Soldiers from Iowa, Nebraska and North Dakota National Guard will be rotating through Bavaria three weeks at a time over the course of four months between late May and late August continuing to offer military air medevac support to Hohenfels and Grafenwoehr.

“Out here the people have been very friendly to us and welcoming us in,” Miller added. “They have been real curious about our airframe and our mission and our capabilities.”

Over the course of the last several months these crews trained on the medevac mission and hoist and lift operations in preparation for their mission here in Germany.

“This is like their Super Bowl,” said Maj. Gen. Tim Orr, Iowa National Guard Adjutant General, who was in attendance to view the demonstration and visit with his deployed Soldiers. “So today I think they set a new course record that could be used in the future to employ our assets around the world to do great things.”

The Lakota has no configurations for mounting weapons or anti air defense measures, which provides the air frame no offensive or defensive capabilities. Due to these limitations, it can’t operate in combat environments or be deployed to a combat zone.

“This was the first time the [Security and Support] organizations have been outside of the States and tied to a mission set outside of homeland defense,” added Orr.

Typically these crews perform the SNS mission in support of local and state law enforcement, like drug raids or other missions that require air support.

The MEDEVAC support mission was developed and coordinated by the Nebraska National Guard, who saw an opportunity to help expand the capabilities of their pilots and support a larger mission in Europe.

“I think this is like the proof of concept that this is doable and workable.” said Nebraska Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac, when he came to visit his Soldiers stationed at Hohenfels June 22.

“There will be other combatant commanders that will look to this and say, ‘If they can do that there, maybe we can do that here,’” Bohac said enthusiastically. “I’m proud of the Soldiers willing to do it.”

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