KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (TheStreet) -- America may be drawing down its military presence in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, but Air Force pilots and medics are still working hard to save U.S. lives.
Earlier this week, TheStreet got an opportunity to witness an Air Force Aeromedical Evacuation (AE) team in action, joining an eight-hour mission to transfer wounded personnel across the war-torn country.
"You will be seeing some impressive scenery today," I was told when I joined pilots and crew from the 772nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron at its base in Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. "You will see the Hindu Kush spread out beneath you."
I was, however, also told to keep my body armor and helmet with me, underlining the potential dangers here. Like most military personnel at Kandahar airfield, each member of the flight crew and medical team carried a weapon.Capt. Corey Jencks, the flight commander, explained that this is his fourth AE mission and the second of his current deployment, which began about a month ago. Our "ride" would be a Lockheed Martin (LMT ) C-130J, which was being prepared by the medics as we walked across the runway. Soon, Jencks called everyone together for a pre-flight briefing in the cargo hold, outlining emergency procedures and discussing the patients' requirements with Major Robert McGaughey, director of the five-person medical crew. The huge airbase at Bagram in central Afghanistan would be our first destination, followed by a short journey to an FOB, or Forward Operating Base, at Sharana in the southeastern part of the country. From there, a return to Bagram, and finally, home to Kandahar. Shortly afterwards, I was settled in the cockpit jump seat and connected via headset to Jencks and his co-pilot, First Lt. David Mackintosh. Senior Airman Robert Lemay, one of the two loadmasters on the four-man crew, clambered up the ladder to the cockpit to give the new boy a security briefing, showing me what to do with the bag containing my emergency oxygen supply. "We're not going to have to bail out, but, if we do, it's three long rings on the [alarm] bell," he added, before noting with a smile that "there's only four parachutes anyway."
Select the service that is right for you!COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.
- $2.5+ million portfolio
- Large-cap and dividend focus
- Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
- Weekly roundups
Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.
- Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
- Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
- A custom stock screener
- Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.
- Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
- Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
- Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.
- Real Money + Doug Kass + 15 more Wall Street Pros
- Intraday commentary & news
- Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.
- 100+ monthly options trading ideas
- Actionable options commentary & news
- Real-time trading community
- Options TV