National Guard medevac soldiers return from deployment

 

The Delaware National Guard’s 126th Air Ambulance Company presents itself at Saturday morning’s return ceremony in New Castle. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

The Delaware National Guard’s 126th Air Ambulance Company presents itself at Saturday morning’s return ceremony in New Castle. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

NEW CASTLE — Military requirements strictly demand a 15-minute takeoff to the most serious of airborne medevac assistance calls.

The Delaware National Guard’s 126th Air Ambulance Company averaged six minutes during its stay in northern and central Iraq, and missions to Kuwait.

“While deployed, these outstanding solders obliterated the requirement …” said Maj. General Frank Vavala, Adjutant General of the Delaware National Guard, during remarks in a 50-minute return ceremony on Saturday morning at the Army Aviation Support Facility.

According to Maj. General Vavala, the regiment lived up to its training, and was “truly the operational force that was envisioned by our founding fathers in the Constitution.”

The 20-member detachment spent 11 months serving its country, treating and transporting wounded soldiers during their most critical time of medical need — the so-called “Golden Hour” that saves lives with quick response toward a higher level of medical care.

Through 40 real life Medevac missions preserving the Golden Hour, the Air Ambulance Company provided support to both conventional and special operations forces.

The 126th spent over 600 hours in support operations, earning a Meritorious Service Medal, 12 Army Commendation Medals, and four Army Achievement Medals.

For Sgt. Kevin Imhof of Magnolia, a good day was when there were no calls for Medevac response.

At a return ceremony Saturday in New Castle, Delaware National Guard 126th Air Ambulance Company Sgt. Kevin Imhof of Magnolia is pictured with his wife Heather, son Colton and daughter Quinn. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

At a return ceremony Saturday in New Castle, Delaware National Guard 126th Air Ambulance Company Sgt. Kevin Imhof of Magnolia is pictured with his wife Heather, son Colton and daughter Quinn. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

The sergeant was joined by wife Heather, son Colton and daughter Quinn at Saturday’s ceremony, and repeated the often mentioned thanks to his family for enduring his nearly year-long absence interrupted only by a quick return to see his daughter born in December.

“It’s pretty tough, but I have a lot of faith and trust in my wife to keep things going at home,” Sgt. Imhof said. “Thank goodness for being able to at least see them on Skype because I don’t know how I would have made it without it.

“You do miss things — you can’t hold them, miss important events in their lives, and aren’t there to support your wife when she’s having a bad day.”

Chief Warrant Officer II Dayne Eisele of Milford said Saturday’s ceremony brought closure to the stint abroad, which included a good relationship with the Iraqis he interacted with.

“The people there are very receptive to Americans and they appreciate the help we provided them,” he said. “They’ll go out of their way to support what we need to do.”

Echoing that observation, Sgt. Imhof said he was encouraged by the cooperation shown during joint operations involving United States and Iraqi soldiers.

“They are clearly fighting for the survival of their country,” Sgt. Imhof said.

Maj. General Vavala, Gov. Jack Markell, Sen. Tom Carper and Rep. John Carney all offered remarks saluting the citizen soldiers, along with their families and employers who supported their efforts at home.

“There are 900,000-plus people not here today who would like to say thank you,” Rep. Carney said.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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