Photo Information

AL ASAD, Iraq - A UH-60 Blackhawk crew chief observes his helicopter for any problems that may stop them from completing their mission at Al Asad, Iraq, June 15. The soldier is with 82nd Medical Company, Marine Aircraft Group 16 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. Their mission is to provide aerial medical support to all personnel in the Western Al Anbar Province of Iraq.

Photo by Staff Sgt. Chad McMeen

'Angels' descend on Al Asad, save lives

26 Jun 2006 | Lance Cpl. Brandon L. Roach

The thumping of helicopter blades beats over the noise made by service members scrambling to help a wounded person, and as the sound becomes clearer, they look up and see the dark silhouettes of two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters drifting in to land. 

Smoke is popped and the 'Angels of Mercy' with the Army's 82nd Medical Company descend from the sky to take the injured to a hospital located safely inside the perimeter of Al Asad.

The mission of the soldiers with the 82nd Medical Company is to provide aero medical evacuation operations throughout the Western Al Anbar province, said Army Capt. Jesse A. Blanton, UH-60 Blackhawk pilot, 82nd Medical Company, Marine Aircraft Group 16 (Reinforced), 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

The unit is currently serving their third deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom with detachments across Iraq.

With an average of 50 medical evacuation missions per week, the flight line named "Leatherneck Dust Off" is always buzzing with personnel preparing the aircraft and equipment for missions.

"We chose the name of the flight line to directly show our support to the Marines that we work with," said Army Maj. Dustin Elder, commanding officer, 82nd Medical Company. "Our guys are doing a great job out here, and we are very appreciative of the Corps taking care of us."

Although the soldiers have a very stressful job, they understand their role is a crucial part of the mission during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"We provide en route medical care to injured personnel on the ground," said Army Master Sgt. Scott Heise, flight platoon sergeant, 82nd Medical Company. "It is an honor to do the job we do, and it is most rewarding when we can save a life."