Let me be transparent: I am a nurse, and I have been a nurse for 41 years, and many civilian and military nurses have had a big impact in my eduction, career and life. I have not always been a Military nurse; I was commissioned in 1983 and served for over 27 years as an Aeromedical Evacuation Nurse (Flight Nurse) with the West Virginia Air National Guard. The Air National Guard are the citizen airmen and women, who also have civilian professions during their military career.
My salute is to the 167th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron (AES), West Virginia Air National Guard, the Nurses, Medical Technicians (Med Techs), Medical Service Corps (MSCs) Officers, Administration Technicians and Radio Operators. Without each member, the Nurses could not function with the efficiency that is necessary to operate Aeromedical Evacuation Crews and Mobile Aeromedical Staging Facilities (MASFs).
In 2003 the 27 members of the 167th AES were activated and deployed to Baghdad International Airport, Iraq, to operate a MASF in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. A MASF is a passenger terminal for patients, we prepare the casualties to fly in a C-130 to Kuwait, or in a C-141 or C-17 to Germany, or directly to the United States. All personnel served honorably in caring for and transporting over 1,300 casualties in over 90 missions over an 80 day period, under constant threat of hostile fire. Many of these injured included multiple-limb amputees. Constantly I heard of many of the wounded, to include the amputees, that they didn't want to go home, they wanted to stay and return to their unit to continue the fight. The Aeromedical personnel also went above and beyond in caring for the wounded. I remember one Flight Nurse and Med Tech, when a call for Type O-blood was needed, immediately stepped forward and donated without hesitation.
I would not hesitate again to go to war with any of the personnel I deployed with in 2003.
Col. Andrew Wolkstein, Nurse Corps (ret.)
American Legion Post 156, Maryland