36th Medevac Bn. Change of Command

Story by Pfc. Crystal D. Eldridge
13th SC(E) Public Affairs

Soldiers of the Army's Best Combat Service Support Aviation Battalion for 2005 participated in a change of command ceremony at Sadowski Field here Friday in honor of their outgoing and incoming commanders.

Lt. Col. William Drennon, former commander of the 507th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) and Senior Medical Service Corps Career Manager, Human Resources Command, Alexandria, Va., replaced Lt. Col. Robert Mitchell as commanding officer of the 36th Medical Evacuation Battalion, 1st Medical Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).

The 36th MEB flourished under the leadership of Mitchell over the past two years, producing the Army Times Soldier of the Year, earning the Dustoff Association Rescue and Crewmember of the Year and the Medical Corps Award of Excellence, and earning the prestigious Lt. Gen. Ellis D. Parker Award as the best combat service support aviation battalion - all in 2005 alone.

Under Mitchell's command, the 36th deployed to Iraq and provided medical evacuation to Soldiers throughout the entire Iraqi Theater of Operations. This was no small feat. With only 72 ground ambulances and 60 UH-60 Blackhawks, the battalion conducted nearly 22,000 evacuation missions and logged roughly 15,000 flight hours.

With only 1,000 Soldiers, the 36th evacuated nearly 39,000 patients - U.S., Iraqi and coalition forces alike.

Despite flying single ship operations - missions where aircraft fly without an escort - during sandstorms and other adverse environmental conditions, against insurgent resistance and at night, the battalion suffered no loss of life or heavy equipment due to accidents.

Upon returning to Fort Hood following their deployment to Iraq, the 36th underwent drastic transformations to become a multi-functional medical battalion. The battalion's air evacuation capabilities were transferred to individual aviation brigades throughout the Army. The 507th Medical Evacuation Company was reassigned to the 4th Infantry Division and deployed to Iraq for its third rotation.

These transformations made the 36th MEB the last medical evacuation battalion to conduct the air evacuation mission in combat.

With such success as battalion commander, Mitchell has been selected to remain in the 13th SC(E) as rear detachment commander during the SC(E) headquarters' upcoming deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The battalion's new commander is no stranger to the SC(E) or the battalion itself. He served with the 507th Medical Company as section leader and Aviation Maintenance Platoon Leader in 1991 and returned in 2000 as executive officer, then stayed on as commanding officer in 2002.

Under Drennon's command, the company deployed in direct support of the 3rd Infantry Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom - 1.

Drennon's career as a military officer began in 1987 following his graduation as a Reserve Officer Training Corps distinguished military graduate from Georgia Southern University where he received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice. His first assignment as a commissioned officer was Medical Platoon Leader, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor at Fort Stewart, Georgia.

He then served as the Executive Officer of Charlie Company, 24th Forward Support Battalion during Operation Desert Shield/Storm.

In 1991, he completed flight training and received his first assignment to Fort Hood where he served his first term with the 507th Medical Company.

Upon completion of his responsibilities with the 507th, Drennon was reassigned to the Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, Louisiana, where he served as the Senior Aero-Medical Evacuation Observer Controller. He then went on to command the 568th Medial Company, Camp Humphrey's, Korea, and the 214th Medical Evacuation Detachment at Fort Kobbe, Panama, during Hurricane Mitch Disaster Relief.

In 2000, Drennon completed the Command and General Staff College and returned to Fort Hood.

His latest assignment as commander of the 36th will require Drennon to continue transformations to make the 36th multifunctional until its scheduled deactivation in 2008.

 

news photo
Lt. Col. Robert Mitchell, outgoing commander of the the 36th Medical Evacuation Battalion, passes the battalion's colors to Brig. Gen. Michael J. Terry, commander of the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), during the 36th's change of command ceremony at Sadowski Field here Friday. Photo by Sgt. Joel F. Gibson, 13th SC(E) Public Affairs