Bandage 33

Bandage 33 was an aeromedical evacuation mission flown by the 651st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron out of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. The team of Citizen Airmen, Capt. Adriana Valadez and Senior Airman Amanda Pena from the 433d Airlift Wing, and Lt. Col. Kathleen Sprague and Master Sgt. John Kley from the 514th Air Mobility Wing were on a routine mission when they were diverted into Mazar-e-Sharif to pick up a critically wounded Airman. That patient was Tech. Sgt. Zach Rhyner, an Air Force combat controller who had received the Air Force Cross for saving the lives of his 10-man Special Operations Team during a brutal ambush in 2008 and was back in the fight. The Bandage 33 team picked him up and continued with their mission. En route, Rhyner’s condition worsened, prompting Valadez to call for immediate diversion into Bagram Airfield. The aircraft encountered severe turbulence on approach, making it difficult to apply pressure to Rhyner’s wounds. Undaunted by the shaking, Valadez and Pena strapped themselves to the side of the litter, making it possible for Valadez to apply pressure through the landing, taxi, and transportation to the hospital, thus saving Rhyner’s life. On an average day, there are more than 60 Reserve aeromedical evacuation teams providing support to combatant commands and saving the lives of wounded warriors.

PHOTO BY: Benjamin Faske
VIRIN: 160812-F-ST721-001.JPG
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