Utah Army National Guard Air Medical Evacuation Unit Deploys to Afghanistan

Nov 5, 2013

Deployment to Afghanistan of Utah National Guard's Detachment 2, Charlie Company, 1-171st Aviation Unit
Credit Wendy Kamahele

For the first time in 20 years, a Utah Army National Guard Air Medical Evacuation group is deploying out of the country. Captain Penny McCarthy is the Commander of the unit. She says building a medevac unit from an air attack group has not been done before in Utah. McCarthy says being ready for today’s deployment to Afghanistan was a daunting challenge for every soldier in the group.

“And I, you know, really looked for soldiers who were the right fit for this mission because it’s not an easy mission at all. And we’re going to dealing with some very traumatic, tough situations,” says McCarthy.

Utah Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox was on hand to wish the unit well on its mission. He took time to recognize the sacrifices of the families of the soldiers.

Crew of the Utah Army National Guard Air Medical Evacuation unit training exercise in Cache Valley summer of 2013.
Credit File: Utah Army National Guard

“As I look into the faces of the families that are left behind, and to imagine that I was complaining about spending three or four nights a week away from my family, I can only image what the next year will be like for you,” says Cox.

This unit participated in rescue operations in Utah including lifting out stranded rafters near Ferron in June of 2012. The unit flies UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. The first leg of this mission includes training at Fort Hood in Texas. From there, they head to Afghanistan and will provide medical evacuation and airlift duties to the Coalition forces in the troop draw-down effort of Operation Enduring Freedom.