DUSTOFF Assn. Honors Eminent Bravery

by Cleo Brennan, Fort Sam Houston Public Affairs Office
From the Fort Sam Houston News Leader, March 1, 2001

DUSTOFF, word that meant first aid wasnąt the last hope for wounded soldiers on the battlefield. It is also the name and glory of a national association of current and former Army Medical Department enlisted members and officers, aviation crewmembers, and others engaged in or actively supporting Army aeromedical evacuation in any capacity. The essence of courage that epitomizes DUSTOFF permeated the atmosphere at a banquet for members of the DUSTOFF Association. The DUSTOFF Association met in San Antonio for its annual reunion, gathering for a special ceremony of recognition Saturday night. It was a night for memories of courage and tales of daring. There, they recognized those who rose from the field of glory and battle to the pinnacle of courage and commitment and therein laid the foundation of the DUSTOFF legacy. Keynote speaker, Major General Kevin Kiley, Commander, Army Medical Department Center and School and Fort Sam Houston, participated in recognizing five legendary figures in the ranks of DUSTOFF, who were inducted as the first to be named to the DUSTOFF Hall of Fame; three Medal of Honor recipients were among them.

Hall of Fame inductees included Major Charles Kelly, represented by his son, Charles Kelly Jr.; retired Major General Patrick Brady; retired Major General Spurgeon Neel; retired Chief Warrant Officer Michael Novosel; and retired Chief Warrant Officer Louis Rocco. Brady, Novosel, and Rocco are Medal of Honor recipients.

The Association also recognized the exemplary performance of the DUSTOFF Crewmember of the Year, SGT Glenn Fryer, 236th Medical Company, Landstuhal, Germany. They presented the award for the DUSTOFF Rescue of the Year to the 571st Medical Company, Fort Carson, Colorado, for the actions of crewmembers CPT Jeffrey Mosso, CPT Edward Mandril, SSG Lisa Dixon, and SGT Phillip Smith.

SGT Philip Smith, 571st Med. Co., describes the Rescue of the Year

Fryer is a UH-60 helicopter repairman, whose duties primarily involve superior maintenance and crew coordination as a crew chief. However, he is also lauded for setting himself apart from his peers by employing his medical knowledge and patient care skills during numerous deployments and missions.

The 571st crew was selected for the honor for performing a harrowing and complicated high-altitude rescue of an injured hiker who was literally freezing to death. The hiker was lost for two days on Mount Elbert, near Leadville, Colorado. Overcast weather and a low ceiling in the mountain passes added to the complication of life-and-death timing. Over steep, rugged mountainside terrain with no safe place to land, the UH-60 Blackhawk maneuvered against gusting wind and blowing snow to lower Smith, the flight medic, seventy-five feet to the patient below, who was then hoisted to safety.

CPT Edward Mandril accepted the award and noted, visibly moved by the honor, that every rescue is important and theirs was just one of many others, perhaps not as well recorded or reported, but no less worthy. To all of those other crews, he offered his salute and accepted the honor in their names as well.

The Hall of Fame plaques honoring Kelly, Brady, Neel, Novosel, and Rocco will be on display at the AMEDD Museum as a permanent part of the museum collection.