Thursday, October 1, 2009

Who Fights This War? -- Flight Medic 2

This story was published on line on Wednesday and was also in a weekly newsletter I do now as part of my new job.

When the United States led coalition forces in the invasion of Iraq in
2003, SSG Quincy Northern, 32, began his first of three deployments as
a flight medic. For the first months of the war Northern flew MEDEVAC
along the invasion route led by the US Marines. "It was non-stop action
from the time we crossed the wire," said Northern describing his first
deployment following the Marines across Iraq in the opening days of
the war.

One MEDEVAC call he remembered vividly was an all-terrain, 8-wheel-
drive HEMMT cargo truck that hit a mine and rolled over. The call itself
was not out of the ordinary. He and his crew responded to many calls
for trucks that hit mines or had rolled over and trapped the badly
injured crew. What made this rescue different was the landing zone.
"They marked out the LZ (Landing Zone) right in the minefield," said
Northern. "We didn't know till we got to the vehicle that the bird and
us were right in the minefield."

They continued the mission. All of the Marines survived. Landing in a
minefield made Northern very conscious of security on MEDEVAC
flights. "When the 9-line (MEDEVAC call) comes in I review it to be as
prepared as I can to treat the injury. Then I think about security issues.
When we land I have to be ready to go and treat the injury, not be
thinking about anything else."

Northern enlisted in 1996 and trained as a flight medic in 2002. He
went to Kuwait in January of 2003 in preparation for the invasion and
followed the Marines until June. He was back in Iraq from March of
2004 to March of 2005 and returned in 2008 with Charlie Company 1-
52nd Aviation Brigade. The Alaska-based unit is currently attached to 2-
104th General Services Aviation Battalion. Northern says the current
deployment is by far the easiest. "On the first deployment we slept on
the bird," he said. "We slept in the same litters that carried the

Northern is a Native of Baton Rouge and admits to being an adrenaline
junkie, but says when he retires from active duty in seven years, his life
is going to be different. "When I retire, I am going to a get a job where
the toughest thing is just showing up every morning," he said with a
wide smile. He is married with two children, a boy and a girl. His wife is
staying with her family in Ellicott City, Maryland, until Northern
returns from deployment.

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