Air Ambulance Crew Wins Air/Sea Rescue Award

By CSM Edward Iannone, aviation branch sergeant major, Ft. Rucker, AL

(From Army Aviation, Official Publication of the Army Aviation Association of America, October 31, 2000.)


Members of the crew of a Task Force Hope UH-60 helicopter from the 214th Medical Detachment distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious service by saving the lives of thirty-six people during Hurricane Mitch disaster-relief operations in Honduras. Their bravery, persistence, and dedication have earned them the distinguished Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA) Air/Sea Rescue Award, created and sponsored by TRW Aeronautical Systems (Lucas Aerospace).

SFC Hector Hernandez, NCOIC for the 214th Med. Det., and MAJ David Parramore, the detachment’s commander, accepted the award on behalf of the crewmembers at the AAAA Aviation Center Chapter’s Annual Awards Banquet at Fort Rucker, Alabama. The AAAA Air/Sea Rescue Award honors members of air rescue commands for outstanding bravery and valiant performance in air/sea rescues.

During the period of November 1 through November 18, 1998, the crew members of “Witch Doctor 36” conducted ten live rescue-hoist missions in severe weather conditions to rescue thirty-six Honduran civilians from the raging floodwaters caused by Hurricane Mitch. These civilians were, in many instances, stranded in trees for a period of several days, exposed to the environment, harasses and often bitten by poisonous snakes also seeking refuge from the raging waters. In one instance, the UH-60 crew conducted a hoist mission to provide food, water, and medical treatment for a Honduran family isolated from civilization for eleven days. Over this seventeen-day period, the crew flew a total of sixty-nine incident-free hours, treated and/or transported 192 injured patients, and transported 23,000 pounds of food and medical supplies and equipment.

“We are proud to be the creator and sponsor of an award that recognizes the achievements of individuals who are willing to risk their own lives to save the lives of others,” said Ken Maciver, executive vice president and general manager of TRW Aeronautical Systems (Lucas Aerospace). “As a manufacturer of rescue hoists, we are also thrilled to be able to contribute to the lifesaving efforts of these heroes by giving them the tools to help them do their jobs. These individuals display bravery and heroism every time they go to work, and any action that is taken to recognize these individuals will surely never be great enough to reflect the recognition that they truly deserve.”

The Air/Sea Rescue Award was created by TRW Aeronautical Systems (Lucas Aerospace) in 1989 to honor air rescue crews who, by using a personnel rescue hoist, display outstanding dedication and courage to save lives or ease suffering in a crisis. The award became an AAAA award in 1991 with sponsorship by TRW Aeronautical Systems (Lucas Aerospace).

To be eligible for nomination for the AAAA Air/Sea Rescue Award, the rescue must have been performed using any personnel rescue hoist, and the crewmembers named in the nomination form must have had an active role in the rescue effort.