While the Air Force and Congress wrangle over ordering two or ten more C-17 Globemaster IIIs to alleviate the strain the current fleet is under. As Australia is flying their first of four C-17s to Edwards AFB to support Red Flag and Canada awaits the delivery of their first C-17. Some C-17s are performing the vital mission of ambulance and life-saver right now.
C-17s routinely fly from Balad Iraq to Landstuhl Germany briging back wounded soldiers for treatment. From Ramstein, other C-17s take these soldiers to either Walter Reed's Army Hospital or Brooks AFB for treatment. For a glimpse of the planning and care exercised by the crews and personnel tending to these soldiers, please read this article of a typical day in the life of an Air Evacuation crew. On occasion there is a bit of crisis that comes out of these missions as this KC-135 crew from RAF Mildenhall scrambled to refuel a 172d AW C-17 bringing wounded back to the United States from Germany. Last year it was a 172d AW C-17 doing such an air evac mission from Balad that marked a significant milestone when that plane, Tail 113, clocked the C-17 fleet's one millionth flight hour.
While we celebrate Prsidents' Day in the United States, lets remember the brave soldiers who served under Washington and Lincoln; for without them this country would not still be standing. As Captain Henderson relates, "But then I thought to myself after we landed that I get to go home today while the guys in the back of that plane are fighting for their lives. It was sobering."