Feature story Lakota marks new program milestone with initial MEDEVAC mission in Germany

August 26, 2010

The UH-72A Lakota has performed its initial MEDEVAC (medical evacuation) mission in Germany, marking an operational first for the U.S. Army’s Light Utility Helicopter in service at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC).

Members of the District of Columbia National Guard’s 121st Medical Company prepare for a mission in Hohenfels, Germany. (Photo: District of Columbia National Guard)

This milestone was achieved by the District of Columbia National Guard’s 121st Medical Company (Air Ambulance), which last month became the first unit equipped with the MEDEVAC-configured UH-72A to be deployed overseas.

"The mission of the unit during its year-long deployment [in Germany] is to provide MEDEVAC standby for units training in the region – many of them prior to their deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan," said Lt. Col. Maureen Bellamy, the state Army aviation officer for the D.C. National Guard, in an Army News Service article.

According to unit commander Maj. Mark Escherich, the 121st Medical Company has been working hard since its arrival in Germany. "[We have completed] notional MEDEVAC response for units validating for combat operations, 9-Line MEDEVAC training, MEDEVAC litter loading and unloading and helicopter safety for the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and the Georgian military," he explained.

The 121st Medical Company’s current area of operations covers both Hohenfels – where the JMRC is located – and Grafenwoehr, which is home to the Joint Multinational Training Center. They are almost two hours apart by car, or 20 minutes by helicopter.

This Washington, D.C.-based company received its first Lakotas in March 2009 – making it the initial unit with a MEDEVAC-equipped UH-72A.  

The Light Utility Helicopter made its European debut in May, with five aircraft arriving for training and support operations at the JMRC. They will be joined by another five UH-72As that are scheduled for delivery in January 2011.

To date, the U.S. Army has received more than 110 UH-72As and has plans to acquire a total of 345 aircraft through 2016.

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