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Air Force Evacuates Sick Baby from Iraq

American Forces Press Service

SOUTHWEST ASIA, Dec. 31, 2005 – A deployed Air Force C-130 crew flew one part of a life-saving trip that recently took an Iraqi child born with spina bifida to the United States.

The C-130 crew, deployed from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, flew Baby Noor, her father and grandmother out of Iraq to a U.S. air base in the region, where the family was met by officials from the U.S. Embassy and transported to a local civilian airport.

"We've had the opportunity to take part in a lot of missions, but this is probably the most rewarding," Air Force Capt. Raul Ochoa, a co-pilot with the 738th Expeditionary Air Squadron, said.

"We're just fortunate to be able to fly them out; it was an honor," Air Force Capt. Craig Hinkley, a pilot with the 738th EAS, said. "I've never done a humanitarian mission quite like this."

Baby Noor was born with spina bifida and Iraqi doctors estimated she had about a month to live, Maya Dietz, vice consul for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, said. Georgia National Guardsmen found the baby during operations in the Abu Ghraib neighborhood of Baghdad. While the troops were searching the house, the baby's grandmother brought the infant to the soldiers asking for help, Dietz said.

Members of the Georgia Guard unit contacted their congressional representatives and formed an elaborate coalition of humanitarian assistance. A surgeon in Atlanta has offered his services free, commercial airfare to Atlanta was donated, and a non-profit organization in Atlanta will pick up the additional costs for the trip.

U.S. Embassy officials in Kuwait coordinated with the Kuwaiti minister of interior to allow smooth passage to the U.S. "They were very helpful, allowing these three Iraqis to transit though without visas," Charles Glatz, consul for the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, said.

(Air Force Capt. Michael G. Johnson is assigned to the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing.)

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