He was in one of the most dangerous areas of the war contributing greatly to the unit's mission and helping to get the job done,” Cayce emphasized. “Many Air Force medics are directly supporting the larger mission in Iraq with the Army."
Vazquez was embedded with an all-Army unit. There was only one other Air Force person on his team, a logistics specialist, Maj. Rick Hughes, from Moody Air Force Base, Ga.
"My job was supposed to be base life support, making sure the base runs so the warfighters can take the fight to the enemy," Vazquez said. "We took care of the water, power, food, maintenance, equipment, generators and fuel.”
“I worked with contractors who were providing all the support, making sure they were providing services that the minister of defense was paying for, evaluating goods and services as they arrived, making sure Iraqis were getting everything they needed, and troubleshooting issues as they arose: broken pipes, generators and trucks, and maintenance workers not showing up," he said.
On top of all that, Vazquez served as the unit's only medic. He was also an adviser to the division's surgeon, an Iraqi colonel.
"I would help him with his processes and give him guidance on how the U.S. medical system worked out issues," Vazquez explained.
He said it was a challenge to work with the Iraqis because they had a different mindset and culture. The medical system, he noted, was in dire need of new systems and support.
"I filled a lot of roles that wasn't typical for an Air Force medic," he said.
When the team would go on missions to pick up soldiers, Vazquez said he enjoyed the reaction on their faces when they saw Air Force stripes in the driver's seat.
"It was like, 'What's an Air Force person doing in the driver's seat?'" he said.
But when they found out he was a medic, they were glad.
"For (the U.S. Army) to recognize the magic he brought to the field for them is a significant feat," Boera said. "It's a huge deal."