***image1***“Stütze (support) Main, this is Medicine Man 172, blades turning on the helo pad, (break) we are here to pick up emergency blood for Baghdad, (break) we need to get going, cause we got patients to pick up-over.”
This is a typical transmission heard in the 226th Medical Logistics Battalion’s Tactical Operation Center.
The battalion is responsible for providing medical supplies, making glasses, repairing medical equipment and is the sole provider of blood for the operational theater of Iraq. The battalion has trained to perform this mission for years, but now it’s real. In the following text, you’ll be introduced to this unique, European-based unit, see what life is like in Iraq for the Soldiers, as well as see the extreme value of the Family Readiness Program.
The 226th Medical Battalion, Logistics Forward, is one of the oldest medical units in the U.S. Army, beginning its distinguished history as Medical Company in 1917, then a member of the 82nd Division. It served in every major conflict this nation has ever undertaken. The unit is station on Miesau Ammunition Depot, in the western portion of the KMC.
On Jan. 8, the battalion deployed two of its three companies to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. For the next year, approximately 160 Soldiers will call Logistics Support Area Anaconda, near Balad, Iraq home.
The hardships of this deployment are many. It has separated Soldiers from their loved ones, disrupted career plans, and placed Soldiers in “Harm’s Way,” living austerely, enduring extreme environmental conditions. The duty day is at minimum, 12 hours long, seven days a week.
The living conditions are the best that can be provided and are better than many places in Iraq. The Soldiers live in tents, shower in trailers, and eat in dining facilities. The camp has a Post Exchange, movie theater, indoor swimming pool, as well as make-shift physical fitness facilities.
Soldiers get around via bus system, bicycles, or by walking. There is routinely mortar and rocket attacks and presently, we wear an extra 25 pounds of body armor whenever outside a hardened area.
However, the Soldiers of the 226th are all proud to be here and perform incredible feats daily. Whereas the deployed portion of the battalion gets the majority of the communal attention, there is a Rear Battalion Headquarters Detachment and another company back in Germany, who daily perform in stellar fashion, providing medical logistics support to U.S. Army in Europe. That said, one cannot overlook the key ingredient in the success of both operations, and that is the unit and community Family Readiness Program.
Soldiers will deploy and endure many hardships for several reasons, one being the comfort of knowing quality medical care is nearby, another is the comfort gained from their “battle buddy,” but the most quintessential ingredient is the comfort of knowing your family is taken care of, and that there is a mechanism in place to handle the daily trials and tribulations, that they are taken care of and that there is someone for them to turn to.
In closing I’d like to say thank you to the entire KMC, thank you for taking care of our families!