AES Airmen set to deploy

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Grant Saylor
  • 446 Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The first of three consecutive overseas deployments for the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron here is slated for August. 

Twenty-one aeromedical evacuation specialists are set to deploy to Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

The Reservists will be split into teams, with eight Reservists going to Balad AB, Iraq, another eight Reservists going to Bagram AB, Afghanistan, and five Reservists going to Ramstein AB, Germany, said Maj. Judy Krill, the 446th AES unit deployment manager. 

The teams will coordinate the medical care and transfer of wounded servicemembers from war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan to Ramstein. 

"Their survivability depends on us," said Master Sgt. Rebecca Cantrell, 446th AES aeromedical technician. "This is a great opportunity for us to be part of a medical team that boasts the best patient survivability rate of any military conflict." 

Sergeant Cantrell's primary focus during her four-month deployment to Bagram will be operations support. She'll be responsible for crew management and scheduling, helping to ensure crews fly every day. 

Another group of teams will deploy in December, followed by a third group in April 2009. 

"Because we go out as a crew of five or eight, we're a tight-knit group," said Major Krill. "We work together, play together, and support each other. It truly feels like family in this squadron," she said. 

For Sergeant Cantrell, this will be her fourth deployment with the 446th AES, her first coming during Operation Desert Storm. 

"Aeromedical evacuation, and medicine in general, has come so far," said Sergeant Cantrell. "People don't die in the field like they used to and to know that we have a part in that advancement is truly satisfying," she said. 

Sergeant Cantrell's sacrifice as a Reservist is a family affair. Her husband, Master Sgt. Larry Cantrell, is a loadmaster with the 728th Airlift Squadron and has been on active duty since Sept. 11. Barring a deployment of his own, he will look after the couple's three children while his wife serves overseas. 

"I have the coolest job in the Air Force," said Sergeant Cantrell. "The AES career field has become such a part of me, I can't think of doing anything else." 

That's good news for injured servicemembers, whose lives will be in the hands of competent specialists from the Air Force Reserve.