RFS Escorts Casualties to Turkish Aircraft

Photos and story by Sgt. Chad Menegay
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

MOSUL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Iraq — Military police in Chevrolet Trailblazers and High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles rolled into Mosul International Airport, escorting waves of casualty filled ambulances, Wednesday just outside of Contingency Operating Base Marez, Iraq.

Members of the force protection team with the Regimental Fires Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) out of Winchester, Tenn., and Soldiers with Alpha Company, 2-3 Brigade Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, led 25 Iraqi and Turkish casualties of a May 2 roadside bombing incident through checkpoints to a Turkish military C-130 at Mosul International Airport.

The Turkish Consulate agreed to medically evacuate victims for advanced medical treatment at an undisclosed location in Turkey, said Maj. Austin Maxwell, the base defense operations center officer in charge for COB Marez, with the RFS and a Murfreesboro, Tenn., native.

 “This is a sign of international support for Iraq,” said Michael H. Corbin, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of State.

“This is one of the most difficult parts of Iraq, and we’re very pleased to see the support and cooperation that brings the Turkish aircraft here for medical evacuation,” he said.

Corbin, who flew in from Washington D.C., and other senior officials visited the airport to express condolences, praise the Iraqi-Turkish cooperation for the humanitarian assistance and condemn the violence.

Two bombs blasted Christian students and other civilians as a bus traveling to the University of Mosul, and escorted by the Iraqi Army, left a security checkpoint.

The explosion caused many serious injuries, including lost limbs, facial wounds, neurological damage, and shoulder injuries.

“We condemn all violence here,” said W. Patrick Murphy, Team Leader for the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Ninawa Province, Iraq. “The targeting of minorities and Christians in particular is unacceptable. We are coordinating with Iraq authorities to improve security, so that all citizens here, including Christians and minorities can conduct their lives. These are for the most part young students going to the university trying to improve their lives. We just won’t let the terrorists win.”

The PRT helped facilitate the Turkish-Iraqi agreement to further treat the wounded in Turkey.

PRTs are civilian-military elements that assist provincial and local governments to govern successfully and provide necessary services.

“In the past, we’ve had a much more prominent role, but now the Turks and Iraqis know how to work together,” Murphy said.

COB Marez military police, who also coordinated with the PRT to get the victims in the air, stood by at the airport while Turkish doctors pre-treated the wounded and Turkish soldiers loaded them into their aircraft.

“It was very important to me that we got them in there, while maintaining security,” Maxwell said.



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Master Sgt. Ernest Calvert III(left) of Regimental Fires Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) out of Winchester, Tenn., talks through the plan Wednesday with his force protection troops prior to escorting casualties to the Mosul International Airport, Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Chad Menegay)

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An injured victim of a May 2 roadside bomb outside of Mosul awaits transport to Turkey via C-130 in the back of an ambulance at the Mosul International Airport Wednesday. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Chad Menegay

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A Turkish medical worker aids victims of a May 2 roadside bomb in a Turkish military C-130 at the Mosul International Airport Wednesday.