The page last updated 09 May 2009.


Back Issues of Newsletter

The following excerpts are from the Fall 1999 DUSTOFFer Newsletter. The complete newsletter, and all the stories, is mailed to each DUSTOFF Association member. If you are not a member, become a member now and read the complete issue.

President's Message

To each of our cherished members and friends, greetings from your DUSTOFF Association. Imagine, we're just days from a new year, a new millennium and for the first reunion of the next century. The 2000 reunion has taken shape. After several years' absence, we're going back to the San Antonio Riverwalk. Many are surprised that we could make it back to the Holiday Inn at a reasonable price or that the Holiday Inn would want us back after some of the wild reunions we held there in the past. This year's Evacuation Conference will correspond with our reunion and will be held at the same hotel. In an effort to recruit new members, our Executive Board is working to make our Association known to our active and Reserve Component crewmembers. We have been marketing through our networks and intend to make a presentation at the Evacuation Conference. The nominations for "Crewmember and Rescue of the Year" have been voted on -- all nominations were outstanding and you needn't worry about the quality of our soldiers, or the courage and skill of our crews, in today's army! We look forward to seeing you on the Riverwalk in February and, while there, do plan on attending the business meeting. We have some great issues to discuss and welcome your input.

DUSTOFF! Merle Snyder


LTC James R. (J.B.) Hill, died of an apparent heart attack on August 25, 1999. He is survived by his wife, Karen Lee Hill. He was a DUSTOFF Pilot during Vietnam. He served 20 years in the US Army.

SSG Charles Cowles passed away on June 17, 1999. He is survived by his wife, Shirley Cowles. Charles looked forward to our gatherings in Texas each year and was already making plans to attend the next one. His favorite unit was the 159th Med. 1968-70 and the 45th Med.

Making a Difference; One Mission at a Time!
By:  MAJ Pete Smart

Today (16 SEP) marked a milestone of sorts. On 16 AUG, a call arrived at our Bondsteel site in Kosovo for an Urgent MEDEVAC. A six year old boy had been shot in the chest. Today, that little boy went home.

Imagine if you will, enjoying a hot summer day with a couple of your friends at the local swimming hole. Nothing more than a small muddy pond, but when you're six years old, you really don't care! A couple of adults approach you and your friends, one of the men pulls out a pistol, aims it at your chest, and pulls the trigger. They leave your friends alone; you were the target because you are ethnically different. Fortunately, your friends go to get help. His lifeless body is transported to the nearest US checkpoint and the URGENT MEDEVAC is called in. Four dedicated air crewmembers spring into action. The powerful Sikorsky Air Ambulance is airborne in minutes and dashing to the scene at over 150 knots. The critically injured child is loaded and the Blackhawk Chopper beats the air into submission making a return to the Army Combat Support Hospital at Camp Bondsteel in just a few minutes. The Flight Medic renders aid and completes medical assessments, radio calls are made, Air Traffic Control expedites arrival clearances, Emergency Room personnel scramble readying for the trauma patient. Upon arrival, the Emergency Medical Team swarms over the patient. The child is in severe shock from loss of blood and major damage to his liver. Doctors, Nurses, OR Techs, and Medics work quickly to patch the hole and replenish vital body fluids; the job made all the more difficult because military field hospital surgical equipment is designed for adults. Another problem has developed. The transfused blood is not clotting. The little boy needs whole blood! The call goes out in the Hospital and several staff members donate blood on the spot. Privates to Colonels; all trying to save a young life. The boy's body fluid is replenished three times before his blood pressure finally stabilizes. Now we all hope for the best. Will his young body be able to recover from such severe trauma? He slowly recovers; watched over closely by the dedicated staff. Someone brings in one of the "camp puppies" for a visit and a promise of one for him when he recovers. Mom and Dad are there day and night! He takes a turn for the worse as pneumonia sets in. Powerful antibiotics fight the infection but take a toll on his frail body. On 25 AUG, DUSTOFF is called again to transfer him to Skopje University Hospital for further treatment of his pneumonia. His condition improves and he is periodically checked and provided medication by Army medical professionals from the Camp Able Sentry Health Clinic. He is ready to be discharged, but the Hospital won't accept the KFOR vouchers for payment. He becomes hostage to a "cash only" medical system and his scheduled departure has to be delayed, much to the chagrin of the Task Force Falcon medical authorities. Finally the cash is acquired and the long awaited time has come. He is transported by a ground ambulance team, also deployed from the 421st Medical Evacuation Battalion, to Camp Able Sentry, and flown by a DUSTOFF air crew to a local community hospital in Kosovo to begin his final recovery. A US Medical Team working in the Hospital will assist and we will all continue to pull for the little guy! Someone will be bringing his puppy to him as well!

I had the good fortune, along with a few of our DUSTOFF soldiers, to greet the little boy and his parents when they arrived for the transfer from ground to air ambulance. Although frail and a little tired, he managed to return everyone's waves and seemed happy to be going "home". The DUSTOFF Crewchief provided some in flight snacking by producing a lollipop; that garnered an approving smile. I wish you all were there to see the expressions of gratitude the child's parents had, the handshakes and hugs, that little boys smile. When we presented him with a unit patch and coin, I must admit that smile raised a few goose bumps on me. I've been in this MEDEVAC business for over 12 years, but today was definitely one of the most rewarding days in my career. As the aircraft flew over the horizon I had to wonder if maybe destiny was at work here. Who knows, maybe when that little boy grows up, he will be a major contributor to the peace and stability that his volatile homeland so sorely needs. We can only hope!

Army Honors DUSTOFF Crews

The story of how about 150 people gathered at Ft. Sam Houston to honor the 245 men and women killed serving in units that evacuate wounded service members with a ceremony at plaza in from of the Academy of Health Sciences is told. The article tells about the two plaques there, one honoring Maj. Gen. Spurgeon Neel and the other bearing the DUSTOFF slogan, "When I have your wounded".

1999 DUSTOFF Crewmember of the Year

Nice article about SFC Marvin Broadwater, 236th Medical Company telling the story that accompanied his recommendation for the DUSTOFF Association Crewmember of the Year. Become a DUSTOFF Association member and receive the whole newsletter.

Oregon DUSTOFF Unit Wins Rescue of the Year Award

Tremendous story of how a crew from the Oregon Army National Guard's 1042 Medical Company (Air Ambulance) performed an extraordinarily hazardous rescue of a pilot whose small aircraft was lost in a rugged section of the Northern Oregon Cascade Mountain Range is related.

Memories in a Green Bag

Interesting perspective given by 1LT Patrick Zenk about his thoughts and memories about his father, the 57th Med Det (HA), the 82nd Med. Det.(HA), and a DUSTOFF pilot filled with the pride of a generation past.

The DUSTOFF Legend

John Blessing wrote a neat article about an air ambulance mission in Vietnam. Though the names are not real, the article started, "Aircraft Commander Captain Al Dunn and peter pilot CW1 John Blessing went over the mission details at the radio shack. There was a problem. CPT Dunn stood before the Area of Operations (A)) wall map agonizing with the situation: Location, southwest of Camp Eagle high atop a mountain near the south end of the Ashaw Valley. Patrol's contact with the enemy since insertion, none. Elapsed time since the grunt had broken his leg, three days. Patrol's status, stranded in triple canopy jungle, exhausted from packing their buddy and running out of resources. Type of DUSTOFF mission, hoist. Weather? Ahh yes the weather. That was the problem." To read the rest of this story, which is well worth it, join the DUSTOFF Association.