BAGHDAD — Iraqi special operations forces and their air force partners teamed up recently to conduct their first joint medical evacuation from the Iraqi capital.
Flying a newly refurbished Mi-17 helicopter for the March 20 mission, the Iraqi air force pilots transported an Iraqi lieutenant from Baghdad to the Joint Base Balad medical center to undergo surgery.
“Iraqis coming together for this mission means we are going forward to achieve our independence,” an Iraqi special operations forces officer assigned to the Iraqi medical center said.
The patient said it made him feel good knowing the respective Iraqi forces were working together, because sooner or later Iraq is going to have to run things on its own.
On April 15, while driving in the Baghdad area in civilian clothes, the Iraqi special operations officer was targeted by extremists who fired 7 mm rounds in his direction. Although medical personnel were able to remove the round from the side of his neck, his vocal cords remained damaged.
The Iraqi doctor in charge of the lieutenant’s case said he worked tirelessly with U.S. ear, nose and throat specialists to get him on the surgery list. With everything in place at the Joint Base Balad medical center, his Iraqi air force comrades were willing to help him get there.
Although he has been described as “a brave man” by others in his unit, the lieutenant admitted he is a little nervous since finding out he was scheduled for surgery. Nonetheless, when asked if he wanted to be able to sing after the surgery, he laughed and jokingly responded, “I can’t wait to scream.”