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Petty Officer 3rd Class Aaron Hegerle, a field medical service technician at the Flightline Aid Station, Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, places a nicotine patch on the arm of Lance Cpl. Niki Brown, a CH-53D crew chief with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 362, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward). Corpsmen of 3rd MAW (Fwd) safeguard their troops through their vital roles in supporting all Afghan and International Security Assistance Forces in Regional Command (Southwest). They work in the Tactical Air Command Center, as Causality Evacuation corpsmen aboard Marine Corps aircraft, at the FLAS and in preventive medicine.

Photo by Sgt. Deanne Hurla

Navy corpsman safeguard Marines in Afghanistan

7 Dec 2010 | Sgt. Deanne Hurla

From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli - wherever Marines stand post, that’s where their corpsmen will be.

Corpsmen of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) safeguard their troops through their vital roles in supporting all Afghan and International Security Assistance Forces in Regional Command (Southwest). They work in the Tactical Air Command Center as Casualty Evacuation corpsmen, at the Flightline Aid Station and in preventive medicine.

The corpsmen working in the 3rd MAW (Fwd) TACC have the responsibility to coordinate all the air medical evacuations for coalition service members in Helmand and Nimroz provinces.

“When is made, I coordinate who goes out there,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Brandon Jackson, the RC (SW) senior causality evacuation coordinator in the TACC.

There are several air assets available for medevac to include Air Force, Army and UK helicopters. However, before the type of aircraft can be assigned, the 3rd MAW (Fwd) corpsmen must first know where the patient will be treated.

Identifying a location for treatment is determined by the RC (SW) Patient Evacuation Coordination Cell, depending on the severity of the patient and location available for the corresponding level of treatment.

“Once they choose a [medical treatment] facility, I can choose the aircraft that will be used,” said Jackson, who is originally from Los Angeles.

It’s the responsibility of the TACC corpsman on duty to make the medical recommendation to the senior watch officer on which aircraft to allocate for the casualty evacuation. The SWO makes the final decision. If there is a non-priority patient and there are Marine aircraft in the area, then those helicopters can provide the casevac air-lift.

This is where the casevac corpsmen come into play. These corpsmen fly on routine medical and general support missions. During the medical flights, the corpsmen are there to take care of low priority medical cases such as broken bones, explained Petty Officer 1st Class Lawrence Courtney, the casevac leading petty officer.

Along with the important role corpsmen have in casevac, they also care for the Marines working at all the U.S. squadrons on Camp Bastion.

At the FLAS, they take care of all general exams, sick-call, emergency care and squadron visits to check on Marines, explained Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Ramirez, the FLAS night shift supervisor.

“They are there to check up on you all the time,” said Lance Cpl. Niki Brown, CH-53D crew chief with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 362. “They are always around when you need them.”

The last key role 3rd MAW (Fwd) corpsmen have is in preventive medicine. These corpsmen inspect the dining facilities and squadron mess tents to ensure the food is handled properly and the proper precautions are taken to prevent pests, explained Petty Officer 1st Class Brad Taylor, the senior preventive medicine technician for 3rd MAW (Fwd).

As the senior PMT, Taylor is also responsible for inspecting the 3rd MAW (Fwd) living spaces, ensuring the areas are free of pests and rodents, and tracking the progress of injured 3rd MAW (Fwd) Marines traveling to the continental United States.

Though the corpsmen of 3rd MAW (Fwd) have a multitude of responsibilities, their commitment to the Marines is unwavering; wherever Marines stand post, that’s where their corpsmen will be.


3rd Marine Aircraft Wing