Aeromedical unit celebrates 50 years of saving lives

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jake Chappelle
  • 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The 50th anniversary celebration of the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron will be held at noon July 12 at Heritage Park here. 

The 446 AES's mission is to evacuate sick and injured Department of Defense patients from harm' s way and transfer them to an environment that will support their recovery during wartime, peacetime and humanitarian operations, said Senior Master Sgt. David Poulsen, the senior enlisted manager of AES here. 

The 446th AES has quite a few accomplishments in its history, dating back to when it was the 40th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron from 1958-1996. 

Tech. Sgt. Darlene Emineth, an operations manager at AES here, has written a book about the squadron entitled, "The History of the 40th/446th AES." 

In 1973, the 40th AES was given the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for its contribution to Operation Homecoming, according to "The History of the 40th/446th AES." The AES provided crew members for the first all Reserve aeromedical evacuation mission into Hanoi, Vietnam to bring home American prisoners of war. 

During April and June 1975 the unit received letters of appreciation for its performance in support of Operation Baby-Lift for Vietnam refugees, said Sergeant Emineth. Hundreds of children were rescued by aeromedical evacuations during the U.S. withdrawal from South Vietnam. 

More recently, in support of Hurricanes Katrina, Ophelia, Rita and Wilma, Reserve AES squadrons were responsible for 98 percent of overall aeromedical evacuations, said Sergeant Emineth. 

According to Col. Jan Moore-Harbert, 446th AES commander, young Airmen still jump at the opportunity to become members of such a challenging career field. 

"I have new folks who are so anxious to get trained and qualified just so they can volunteer to deploy to the AOR to move our wounded warriors," said Colonel Moore-Harbert. "One of the things I have told them is that they are part of an exceptional unit and are its future. They will learn what this squadron has been built upon and they are the torch that will continue to carry on a lot of great tradition and good works." 

The 446th AES is similar to a fire department, said Sergeant Poulsen, who has been with the unit for 35 years. Members have to be ready to deploy a lot quicker than most career fields on a moment's notice . The Airmen of the 446th AES has to be ready for that call. 

The fact that this country has the AE capability and does it so well, primarily with Reserve and Guardsmen, is such a tribute to the citizen soldiers, said Colonel Moore-Harbert. 

The 446 AES responds to anything, any time, any where and has been doing it so successfully since the squadron was formed. Their dedication to the squadron, its mission and the Reserve has been unsurpassed throughout the squadron's history. 

"I cannot say enough how proud I am to be the commander of this unit," said Colonel Moore-Harbert. "I can't wait until the anniversary celebration to hear the stories again. Everyone has a story to tell about that one mission that meant so much to them that made that difference in how long they kept doing the job. The stories may differ, but they are always told with a sense of pride in themselves, this unit, the mission and their dedication to this country."