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Face of Defense: Helping Others Motivates Airman

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Heather Kelly
920th Rescue Wing

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz., April 6, 2010 – For some military members, the call to duty is surpassed only by the call to help others.

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Air Force Tech. Sgt. Corey Hellmann discusses the best way to load a critical care patient onboard an Air Force transport aircraft for medical evacuation from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Jan. 9, 2010. U.S. Air Force photo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

For Air Force Tech. Sgt. Corey Hellmann, a reservist who serves with the 920th Rescue Wing, helping others is his mission in life.

When he isn't providing respiratory therapy at his civilian job in a Level 1 trauma center in Tampa, Fla., Hellmann administers critical care to wounded warfighters being evacuated from the war zone in his military job.

As a member of the 920th Aeromedical Staging Squadron at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., Hellmann has deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years as a member of a critical care air transport team. CCATs and aeromedical evacuation teams comprise highly specialized nurses, physicians, medical technicians and respiratory therapists who provide patient care during medical flying missions.

After enlisting in 1997, Hellmann served on active duty and in the Reserve before joining the unit in 2006. His first deployment came in 2008, when he served on a CCAT in Iraq.

"I wanted to extend my deployment. It was my first one, and I enjoyed my job immensely," he said.

But no position was available for him to remain in Iraq, and Hellmann sought out other avenues to lend his support. His persistence paid off, and not long after returning home from Iraq, he deployed to Afghanistan in 2009.

Though he performed similar duties during both deployments, Hellmann noted, the environments in Iraq and Afghanistan were quite different.

"In Iraq, we split the missions with three other CCAT teams, and we would typically fly once a week," he said. "In Afghanistan, the operations tempo was much higher. Only two CCAT teams were in place, and we typically flew three times a week.

"Our crew in Afghanistan flew patients out almost every single day during the deployment," he added. "We were extremely busy, but it was rewarding to know we were making a difference in the field."

Hellmann’s leaders and colleagues at the 920th Aeromedical Staging Squadron agree.

"Sergeant Hellmann's dedication embodies what we've come to expect from the members of ASTS," said Maj. Doug Schulte, the squadron’s director of operations. "We encourage all of our airmen to step up and answer the call. Our mission demands nothing less." During Hellmann's deployment to Iraq, his entire team was composed of members of the 920th Aeromedical Staging Squadron.

"There is something inside that motivates us to do what we do" Schulte said. "You may not always remember patients' names perfectly, but you carry them with you wherever you go. It's a calling."

It's a call that Hellmann and his fellow airmen are ready to answer again.

"Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, … it doesn't matter," he said. "We work hard and together as a team to bring our men and women home safely."

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