The Soldiers of Company C, 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation, “Dustoff,” added another chapter to their long and deep connection with the Marine Corps Oct. 30, when Staff Sgt. Tim Mika was awarded the Air Medal for his actions in saving two Marines in Afghanistan on May 25, 2011.
Fighting a brutal sandstorm that grounded the Blackhawk through his first two attempts to head to two Marines injured by an improvised exploding device, the pilot finally lifted off with the critical assistance of Mika, a flight medic with nearly 17 years in the Army.
“It was a very difficult situation to recover our Marine brothers,” said Maj. Jesse Delgado, Dustoff commander, at the beginning of the award ceremony. “It was a long and very difficult mission.”
Unable to launch when the call for medevac came in, Mika continuously guided and advised his pilot of conditions of both the weather and the wounded Marines, before using a river below to guide them to their goal.
“You could not see anything,” said Mika, who, immediately upon touch- down, sank into 18 inches of mud.
Still, according to the narrative accompanying the medal, “this did not stop him from locating the patients, triaging them and securing them back on the aircraft in less than three minutes.”
One of the Marines needed emergency surgery and more than six units of blood, according to the narrative.
The unit has repeatedly deployed in support of Marine forces, dating to the Vietnam War, a fact that Marine Lt. Col. Pete Faerber, officer in charge of the Marine Detachment at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, noticed as soon as he met the Soldiers wearing Marine patches.
“It’s fantastic. We’ve got a great relationship with these guys,” said Faerber, who pinned the medal on Mika at the Landstuhl heliport. “They’ve constantly supported Marines, deployment after deployment.”
Mika, who has been “shot at, mortared at, rocketed at and stabbed in the back of the helicopter,” still calls his job as a flight medic the best job he has ever had and relishes the chance to aid those in need.
“Sergeant Mika is the epitome of what Dustoff is. He’s everything that’s good about Dustoff,” Delgado said. “What is that? He’s going to come and get you.”