Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Who Fights This War? -- All Female MEDEVAC Crew


“Charlie’s Angels” Fly First Mission as All-Female Crew
For the three days before Thanksgiving, one of the on-alert crews for Charlie Company, 3-238th MEDEVAC, is the first all-female MEDEVAC crew to fly in this company’s history. “This is the first time an all-female crew has come up in the rotation for us,” said Maj. David Mattimore, 38, of Hampton, N. H., the Charlie Company Commander. “And it would not have been possible until one of our avionics sergeants became a crew chief.”
The four women that comprise this crew have a total of nine deployments and each has between eight and twelve years of service. “This is the first all-female crew any of us have flown with,” said Capt. Trish “Cocaine” Barker, operations officer. According to the other members of the crew, Barker got her nickname because she is high energy and addictive. She has ten years service enlisting in 1999 as an aircraft fueler. Barker, 30, went to Officer’s Candidate School in 2003 and Flight School in 2004. A native of Menominee, Michigan, she was deployed to Bosnia in 2005 as a MEDEVAC section leader.
When she returns from this deployment she will return to her job as the State Occupational Health Specialist for the Michigan Army National Guard.
“Same for me. Never flew with an all-girl crew,” said Staff Sgt. Misty “Monkey” Seward, 30, of Owosso, Michigan. Seward enlisted in 1998 and has severed as a medic for a total of eleven years. She has four years as a flight medic and seven years on the ground. She deployed to Kuwait in 2001-2 and to Baghdad in 2006-7, both tours as a ground medic. When she returns from serving as a flight medic in a war zone, she will resume her job as a security officer at a Level One Trauma Clinic in Lansing, part of Sparrow Health Systems.
The Pilot in Command for the crew is Chief Warrant Officer Three Andrea “Anddie” Galatian, 31, of Lansing, Michigan. “There must have been another all-female MEDEVAC crew somewhere, but I haven’t seen one,” she said. Galatian enlisted in 1997 and served five years as an administrative clerk before going to flight school in 2002. She has served seven years as a pilot including a deployment to Bosnia in 2005. As a civilian, Galatian is the business analyst for the Real Eastate Division of the Michigan Department of Transportation.
The newest name on the flight roster is Sgt. Debra “Guns and Knives” Lukan, 43, of Keene, New Hampshire. She enlisted just after 9/11. “I just barely made the age cutoff,” said Lukan. She trained as an avionics mechanic and just recently switched from the shop to flight crewmember. Lukan deployed to Camp Spyker and Tikrit in 2005-6 in avionics and is happy to be on the flight rotation this time. “My family doesn’t know I’m flying,” said Lukan. “They worry a lot, but I suppose I’ll have to tell them eventually.” Lukan is a federal technician working in avionics in the New Hampshire National Guard.
“It may be months before this crew comes up in the rotation again,” said Mattimore. “We only have nine female flight crew members and everyone rotates to our remote bases, so the odds of them being back together again are low.”
“I’m glad we got a chance to be first even if it is just first for us,” said Barker.