In Their Own Words: The 498th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) in Iraq, 2003 - Insightful Commentary by MEDEVAC Helicopter Unit Supporting U.S. Marines, Communications Issues, Power Line Dangers
Professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction, this fascinating book recounts the tales of the 498th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) in the Iraq War during 2003. More
Professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction, this fascinating book recounts the tales of the 498th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) in the Iraq War during 2003. The 498th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) served with the Marines in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom. This was the first time an Army Dustoff unit was placed with the Marines in direct support of combat operations. It deployed from Fort Benning, Georgia to Kuwait in January 2003 where it was attached to the Marines, who "scratched and clawed" their way to Baghdad, meeting heavy resistance in town after town. The 498th was recognized for its service by award of the Navy Unit Commendation Medal, and it returned to Fort Benning on 10 June 2003. In 2006 it re-located to Hunter Army Airfield, Savannah, Georgia, and was redesignated C Company, 2/3 Aviation, 3d Combat Aviation Brigade, 3d Infantry Division. In Iraq, the 498th, nominally assigned to the 3d Medical Command, was attached to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF), the three-star command home-based at Camp Pendleton, California that commanded all Marine units in the theater. It was further attached to Marine Air Group 39, a subordinate unit of the 3d Marine Air Wing.
The personnel interviewed displayed competence and professionalism. In summary, they were proud of the accomplishment of their medical evacuation mission in relieving pain and suffering, and thankful that they did not lose any personnel or aircraft. The company commander reported full cooperation and support by the Marines. The common impression of the 498th soldiers was that Marines are "different." In general, they liked the Marines. They commented on the more stringent discipline, rank consciousness, readiness to obey orders, and readiness for combat. Pilots, especially those with general aviation experience, expressed particular satisfaction with the independence afforded them in flying Dustoff, which is characterized by single ship missions, usually without gun ship support. They did not report any particular restrictions on their employment, such as prohibition of nighttime pickups, requirements for mandatory gunship support, etc. Electric towers and power lines were a constant danger. None were lighted. Power lines were coated by the constant sand storms, and had become sand-colored and impossible to see. Marines are doctrinally employed in amphibious or ship-deployed operations, and are not set up for a long insertion such as the 250-mile march to Baghdad. For example, they are not equipped with off-the-road fuel tankers. The Army is, with its Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HMETT) tankers, and the 498th's Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants (POL) section ended up refueling the Marine aircraft - including Cobras and Harriers - to the tune of 500,000 gallons at refueling points along the route of advance to Baghdad.
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