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AL TAQADDUM, Iraq- When the "CASEVAC Bell" is rung, corpsmen and flight crew of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 161 sprint to their CH-46Es and immediately begin prepping the aircraft for take off, which takes less than 10 minutes.

Photo by LCpl. Ryan R. Jackson

Marines, Sailors brave Iraqi skies, land to save lives

19 Apr 2007 | Lance Cpl. Ryan R. Jackson

The “Greyhawks” of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 161 recently arrived in Al Taqaddum to take the lead as the casualty evacuation squadron for Multi-National Forces-West, Iraq.

The Marines of HMM-161 assumed responsibilities of the CASEVAC mission in the Western Al Anbar Province after a transfer of authority ceremony with HMM-364, March 9.

“The transfer of authority was symbolic with the changing of the “CASEVAC Bells,” said Sgt. Maj. Timothy King, HMM-161 sergeant major.  “HMM-364 removed their bell and we hung ours.  The bell is rung to alert maintenance and aircrew to prepare and launch for a casualty evacuation mission.  When a casualty evacuation mission is received, we are usually airborne and on our way to the location in 10 minutes or less.” 

The purpose of the CASEVAC mission is to extract wounded American or Iraqi forces and civilians and provide urgent medical treatment.  The injured personnel receive treatment during the flight to a level two or three medical facility. 

In addition, the Greyhawks can provide helicopter assault support to MNF-W with troop transport and insertion missions.

The CH-46E squadron is currently on its fourth deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

“The Marines have had very extensive training prior to this deployment,” said King.  “The training they received will ensure mission accomplishment.  We have a good mix of experienced Marines that continue to shape our younger Marines.  I'm expecting us to perform well throughout this deployment.”

Although most of the Greyhawks have already served on several deployments, the motivation level is high and the operational tempo is higher.

“It is always a motivating feeling to see these outstanding warriors in action,” said King.  “They are the backbone of the business that we are in.  The confidence they have in their line of work makes it worth it.” 

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