Guard Helicopter Crew Awarded for Saving 6 Lives

Sometimes even first responders can get caught up in the same dangerous predicament as the people they’re trying to help, especially during flash floods.

Four members of the Louisiana Army National Guard were honored last month by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Enforcement Division for their aerial rescue of six people, including the LDWF’s SGT Rusty Perry and Winn Parish Firefighter Buddy King. The men’s boat capsized as they tried to evacuate people from a flooded area in Winnfield, La., on March 10, 2016.

The Guardsmen, CW5 Jack Mucha, CW2 Corey Sayer, SSG Chad McCann and SGT Aaron Adam, all members of the Bayou 69 Black Hawk Helicopter crew, were awarded the Citizens Exceptional Bravery Awards for their efforts.

When Perry and King could not be reached by other vessels or high water vehicles, the Black Hawk crew performed an aerial rescue in a less than ideal spot that required precision hover work, as told by the crew in the video below:

“There was probably only about 10 feet between the power lines and the edge of the trees,” said SSG McCann, whose job it was to lower SGT Adam down to the stranded men. Adding to the pressure was the fact that no one knew whether the power lines were still active, said Pilot CW5 Mucha.

“It was a nail biter for sure,” said CW5 Mucha, whose mind was also on the mission he and the rest of Bayou 69 were originally scheduled to be doing that day – a flyover of a memorial honoring the MOJO 69 crew – four fellow Louisiana Guardsmen and seven Marines – who had been killed in a helicopter crash on March 10 one year prior.

“We did not want to be accident No. 2,” he said.

It was also a close call for Perry and King, who needed immediate medical attention after being stuck in cold water for a few hours, according to COL John Plunkett, who is now Bayou 69’s commanding officer.

At the awards ceremony last month, “The one individual said that he was actually hypothermic, and close to not being able to hold on to the item he was holding on to,” said COL Plunkett. “[The Guardsmen] were pretty much their last hope for getting those guys out of there.”

After safely retrieving the two men, the crew then returned to the area to rescue the two people Perry and King were trying to help, plus two other stranded first responders.

CW5 Mucha said the only comparable mission he could think of was the hoist work and rescues he had done during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“The most rewarding mission you can do is doing Medevac, and saving lives in combat and here in the State,” said CW5 Mucha, who has been a pilot since 1980. Mucha said most of his Medevac missions have been along the coastline, “so it was nice to help some people in our local area.”

So if you’re looking for a job with a mission, the Army National Guard offers 130 career choices, and not just in aviation. Check out our job board for more information on careers in administration, military police, infantry, mechanics and maintenance, logistics support, and more. For a complete rundown of the benefits of joining the Guard, contact your local recruiter.

Share on FacebookShare on Twitter

State Spotlight: Vermont

Ground and Flight Medics Train Together to Improve Treatment

CAMP JOHNSON, Vt. – Vermont Army National Guard Soldiers tested their medical training from initial care through medical evacuation at Camp Johnson in Colchester, Vt., in early May.

Charlie Company (Medical), 186th Brigade Support Battalion, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain), partnered with Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment, to perform this training.

“We’re getting their ground medics to work with us so they understand how to do transfer of care, what we are looking for, and how to load the aircraft properly,” said SSG Robert Slater, critical-care flight medic, C/3-126th AVN (AA). “The big thing is transfer of care.”

SSG Slater was taking simulated patients from the 186th BSB after the on-ground combat medics performed initial medical care. Slater was attempting to hit the ‘golden hour of medicine,’ and highly trained forces assist with that goal.

SSG Robert Slater, (left), flight medic with the Vermont Army National Guard, simulates administration of an IV for a patient aboard a helicopter. (Photo by SSG Nathan Rivard).

SSG Robert Slater, (left), flight medic with the Vermont Army National Guard, simulates administration of an IV for a patient aboard a helicopter. (Photo by SSG Nathan Rivard).

“The golden hour is the standard of care for medicine from the time of injury to the time of treatment,” explains SSG Slater. “The battlefield can be far away from where medical treatment is. [Combat medics] can only do so much on the frontline itself. If they know how we want our patients loaded, priorities, and things like that, it makes it a lot easier for us to get in, get our patients taken care of, and get them off the ground.”

The medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) is one of the final steps, but to get to that point, combat medics need to apply their training to keep patients alive.

“They are practicing applying tourniquets, needle to chest decompression for tension pneumothorax, as well as immobilization of the C-spine, so they can prepare for transport. Then they do evaluations and re-checks throughout the entire lane on the patient’s status,” said 2LT Nicholas Heredia, a logistics medical officer with the 186th BSB. “The training is real-time for Soldiers … especially for National Guard [Soldiers] because we are natural disaster relief in some cases, and that is what we are trying to simulate here.”

The training emphasizes the multiple phases of medical treatment, as it is a team effort.

“It’s really important because if we were doing a Defense Support of Civil Authorities mission or if we were in combat, our Units will integrate together,” said MAJ Mike Korczykowski, the Charlie Medical Company, 186th BSB commander. “We’ll take the casualties and stabilize them. Then the air ambulance will come in all sorts of weather to get them. It is very important that we communicate and function together.”

MAJ Korczykowski also said training is maximized by working with multiple Units at the same time during a limited time window of a single weekend.

Members feel the time crunch, but they push through it, said 2LT Heredia.

Each drill the Unit is working on revalidates the Soldier’s medical skills, and being able to put into practice all of the Soldier’s skills in one place in a high intensity and high quality scenario is beneficial, said 2LT Heredia.

So if you’re interested in a medical career with the Army National Guard, check out this list of options. The Guard provides training and education benefits that can cover the cost of a college education or additional training from a vocational school.

For more information on all of the Guard’s career fields, which range from logistics to aviation to armor and field artillery, visit our job board and contact your local recruiter.

From an original story by SSG Nathan Rivard, 172nd Public Affairs Detachment, which originally appeared in the news section of in May 2017.


Share on FacebookShare on Twitter

State Spotlight: Washington

Combat Medic Skills Help Soldier Save Lives in His Civilian Job

CAMP MURRAY, Wash. – When Deputy Sergio Sanchez arrived at the scene of a drive-by shooting during a night patrol shift with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department in Spanaway, Wash., he found a man bleeding from his leg.

Sanchez, 28, a six-year veteran in law enforcement, exited his squad car with his personal first aid kit and instantly went to work.

The victim had a bullet wound that went straight through his leg and was bleeding profusely. Within minutes, Sanchez stabilized the man’s injuries with gauze and a tourniquet for transport to the local hospital.

Sanchez didn’t learn his life-saving skills on the police force. He also serves as a combat medic (68W Health Care Specialist) with the Washington Army National Guard‘s Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 146th Field Artillery Regiment.

“I knew exactly what injury he had and immediately I knew what to do,” he said, referring to the gunshot victim. “It was essentially what I learned in [combat medic] school [at Fort Sam Houston] in San Antonio.”

Having formal military training as a combat medic has given Specialist (SPC) Sanchez an extra skill set that often sets him apart from his peers in the police department.

“We don’t usually see that kind of qualification and experience with a brand new deputy,” said sheriff’s department Sgt. Glen Carpenter, Deputy Sanchez’s shift supervisor, adding that most deputies do not have formal training as a medic or a first responder.

Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy Sergio Sanchez also serves as a Specialist and a combat medic in the Washington Army National Guard.

Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy Sergio Sanchez also serves as a Specialist and a combat medic in the Washington Army National Guard.

The drive-by shooting was not the only time SPC Sanchez has used his Army medic skills in his capacity as sheriff’s deputy. Several weeks after that incident, he was called to the scene of a hit-and-run where he found a man lying in the middle of the road.

“When we got closer we saw a large amount of blood coming from his head,” he said. “He was not responsive and barely breathing.”

SPC Sanchez said his training kicked in, and he stabilized the victim’s neck and spinal cord. He applied gauze and pressure to the head injury, and soon the injured man began to show signs of life.

“He eventually started moaning, so that was a good sign,” he said. “I just kept him stabilized until [the] fire [department] got there.”

SPC Sanchez was hit with the medic bug when he was a young boy and came across an old first aid bag from his father’s time in the Army.

“[I] was immediately drawn to what was inside, and spent hours studying the many different pieces of medical equipment,” he said.

However, even with his training, SPC Sanchez said he doesn’t think he, alone, saved these two people’s lives. As a combat medic he is trained to treat, stabilize and move patients on to higher care.

“I just treat and stabilize until fire personnel get there. They start doing [higher level] medical intervention.”

Being a combat medic allows SPC Sanchez to be a much more valuable commodity to the profession he loves so much.

“Being a deputy … I love it,” he said. “Not every day is the same. Being a medic adds a way for me to be helpful and effective to the citizens and my partners.”

So if you’re looking for a way to help your fellow citizens, consider joining the Army National Guard, which has a dual mission to serve the community and the Nation.

Service in this branch of the military is a part-time commitment, and this flexibility allows Soldiers to pursue civilian careers. You’ll receive training for a Guard career, too. Check out our job board to explore more than 150 options, in fields like engineering, aviation, military police, medicine, and armor and field artillery. And for personalized advice, contact your local recruiter, who can also walk you through the Guard’s benefits like money for college.

From an original story by Tech. Sgt. Erich B. Smith, National Guard Bureau, which originally appeared in the news section of in May 2017.

Share on FacebookShare on Twitter