429th Medical Evacuation Battalion Honored

Members of the 429th are thanked for a job well done.
Members of the 429th are thanked for a job well done.

The 429th Medical Evacuation Battalion has saved thousands of soldiers' lives in Iraq. Now, these men and women are getting a much deserved welcome home at Hunter Army Airfield.

These men and women are mostly from Savannah and have regular jobs and families who love them; however, for a year they left that behind to serve our country in the Middle East.

"We did medical evacuation missions flying around in a Blackhawk helicopter," explained Sergeant Christy Gerow.

These men and women in the Army Reserve saved thousands of lives from January 2004 to January 2005.

"We evacuated over 22,000 patients, flew 18,000 air miles and (drove) 200,000 ground miles," said Brigadier General Margaret Wilmoth with the 332nd Medical Brigade.

Their patients were not only Americans.

"We would rescue American soldiers," said Sgt. Gerow, "U.S. civilians working over there and Iraqi civilians."

They were a sight that injured soldiers considered a Godsend.

"First of all, they were very relieved," explained Major John Niedzwiedzki. "We played an important role. When a U.S. soldier injured on the battlefield knows medical evacuation is coming to pick them up, it's a moral booster for troops."

Picking up injured soldiers is not an easy task.

"We had some in harm's way," said Sgt. Gerow. "We would do roadside missions picking up injured or ambushed soldiers."

Performing their duty in the face of danger earned them a special welcome home with a warrior - citizen recognition ceremony for the soldiers, as well as their families, friends and employers.

"They're critical to saving lives," said Brigadier General Wilmoth. "These soldiers are the main reasons many soldiers lived... because they did such an outstanding job."

They also did an outstanding job taking care of themselves. Every member of the 429th came home safely.

The 429th Medical Evacuation Battalion has not learned what their next mission will be; however, they believe they will be involved in some hurricane relief efforts.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro, kangelastro@wtoc.com