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Marine casualty evacuation flights begin operations from Camp Fallujah

July 7, 2005; Submitted on: 07/07/2005 06:43:09 AM ; Story ID#: 2005776439

By Cpl. Ruben D. Maestre II Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD)

Camp Fallujah, Iraq, 07 July 2005 — The Marine CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters flew into the base with a haze of dust in the afternoon horizon. Accompanying the lumbering helicopter transports flying through the gritty air and heat were a pair of menacing AH-1 Cobra attack helicopters.

These helicopters, all part of a casualty evacuation flight attached to Marine Aircraft Group 26, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), based at Camp Taqaddum, Iraq, marked their first landing and pre-positioning here during periods of inclement weather July 2.

They were assisted by the air traffic control Marines of Marine Air Traffic Control Mobile Team, Marine Air Command Squadron 2, Marine Air Control Group 28, 2nd MAW (FWD).

“This is the first time this [casualty evacuation] operation is being conducted in support of combat missions from a Camp Fallujah landing zone,” said 1st Lt. Chris Control Nolf, of Fairfax Station, Virginia, and acting air officer for landing zone east assigned with MMT, MACS-2, MACG-28, 2nd MAW (FWD). “The pre-position at Camp Fallujah is to better support [casualty evacuations] in the area of operation.”

The goal for the medical flights based elsewhere is to use the landing zone here as a possible base during inclement weather. They are supported on the ground by the air traffic controllers tasked in assisting passenger drops and takeoff of people moving to and from the camp.

“We coordinate the safe landing of aircraft,” said Cpl. James Tollett, of Crossville, Tenn., assigned with MMT, MACS-2, MACG-28, 2nd MAW (FWD). “We make sure they do this as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

The underlying mission is clear for the pre-positioning casualty evacuation flight missions and using the resources here; support the rapid aerial response of those injured in the battlefield to the necessary supporting medical facilities for further treatment.

“I think anytime we are in a better position to save someone’s life it’s worth it,” said Maj. Gabriel L. Valdez, of Temecula, Calif., a CH-46 helicopter pilot assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 364 “Purple Foxes,” 2nd MAW (FWD). “If there is a better way to support [II Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD)] we are going to do it.”

Marines supporting landing zone east are eager and willing to support the task of helping those in need of aerial medical support.

“Our function is to formulate and issue air traffic control clearances, instructions and advisories to effect a safe, orderly and expeditious movement of air traffic in our area of responsibility,” said Nolf. “The Marine Air Traffic Control Mobile Team is trained and equipped to provide initial rapid response for air traffic control and communications in support of joint and coalition operations and we want to expedite treatment of those needing medical attention.”

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