AE mission, 86th Airmen greeted by president

Capt. Erin Dorrance
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***Eight 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron members left Ramstein July 10 to provide medical care for 24 patients being transported to the U.S. with injuries they sustained while deployed in support of operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. The mission was especially unique because the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Rodney McKinley was on board after a visit through the AOR. The mission became more unique when they landed at Anderws Air Force Base, Md.: patients and aircrew were greeted by President George W. Bush.

“When we landed we were told we had a visitor, and then President Bush walked on board the C-17,” said Master Sgt. Phillip Gettins, 86th AES medical technician. “It gave me an overwhelming sense of pride to be on a mission where I not only help patients, but that the President of the United States thanked me for my service.” 

The president visited every patient, often kneeling on the floor to shake their hands or hug them, said Capt. Laura Benham, 86th AES flight nurse.  
“The patient’s eyes just lit up,” said Captain Benham. “We were so excited to (see) the president’s impromptu visit.” 

After the president made the rounds visiting with each and every patient, he thanked the Ramstein-based crew and remarked on how great their service is to their country, said Captain Benham.