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Red Air: America’s Medevac Failure



Although Chazray had answered that he was okay, everyone here knows that when someone calls out “I’m okay,” the sound of their voice only means they are still alive.  Fellow Soldiers located Chazray in the dark, and quickly put on tourniquets and unfolded a stretcher. I was not in the dust-filled area, but I could see brave men come out of it, carrying Chazray back over dangerous ground.  I heard Chazray say his arm tourniquet was too tight. He was in great pain. Through night vision I saw an Afghan Soldier rush in to help carry Chazray.


Specialist Chazray was fully conscious and talking the entire time while being medically treated and moved.


The Soldiers took Chazray back to the landing zone where we had just come in.


We waited.


And waited.  Some Afghans slipped off to pray in the dark despite that the surrounding areas were not “cleared.”  (The next day during this mission, an ANA Soldier stepped into an uncleared area and was killed instantly.)

2011-09-18-004254cc1000Sergeant Carroll taking a knee and surveying the surround area.

Sergeant Carroll was so deaf from the bomb blast that he didn’t seem to hear anything, but he stayed alert and on his job pulling security.  At one point, an officer tried to talk with him, and a buddy of his said something like, “Sir, he can’t hear.  He’s deaf.”  And that’s how it went.  When someone wanted to communicate with Sergeant Carroll, they had to grab him and speak loudly in his face.

2011-09-18-010314cc1000Signaling the helicopter

The medevac was very late.  It took us about 20 minutes to get back to the Landing Zone (LZ).  Based on my significant experience down here in southern Afghanistan, I know that the helicopter could and should have already been on orbit waiting for us.  Chazray was dying but fully conscious and talking the entire time.  We waited, and waited.  Finally a radio call came that the medevac was “wheels up” from KAF.  It was unbelievable to us that the medevac was just taking off from Kandahar Airfield, twenty-five miles away.

The problem was that this was an Army Dustoff medevac, and Army medevacs don’t carry machine guns because they have red crosses emblazoned on the sides and front.  When our helicopters sport the red crosses, they can’t carry offensive weapons.  This is meaningless anyway because they are accompanied by an Apache attack helicopter, which is fully loaded with a cannon and missiles.

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  1. This made my entire body cringe. I literally hurt for that incredibly brave soldier. Our brave soldiers deserve the best, not better, the best! If there is anything a single person can do, we should do it. Though it’s not timely enough for Chazray Clark, who I don’t think I’ll ever forget, I will, at the very least, call my representatives and request they address this inexcusable situation.

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