Two pilots flying their last combat mission risked their lives in an unorthodox casualty evacuation to transport a critically-wounded Soldier in Ramadi June 30.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Kevin Purtee and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Allen Crist, from Company B, 1st Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment (Attack), 36th Combat Aviation Brigade, delivered the Soldier of Company A, 1st Battalion, 77th Armor, to prompt medical care. The Soldier had been shot in the face and the arm during a battle near Donkey Island.
Chief Crist and three other infantrymen lifted the wounded Soldier up into the Apache's front seat. "He was bandaged up, and blood was all over him," said Chief Crist, who strapped in the Soldier.
Chief Crist then went to the left side of the Apache and ran a tether to the aircraft and hooked it to his air warrior vest. Sitting on the small wing with his feet on a narrow walkway lining the fuselage, the chief then knocked on the window to let Chief Purtee know he was ready for the flight.
“We were leaving a very dangerous area," Chief Purtee said. "It wasn't a long flight, but it felt like it took forever."
Chief Crist said flying outside the aircraft was similar to "sitting in the back of a truck going down the highway." Reaching the medical pad, Chief Crist stayed with the wounded Soldier while medical personnel waited for the ambulance to move him to the hospital.
Now that's what I call riding shotgun. Crist is the guy on the right in this photo. One can only hope that someone at LSA Anaconda got him a beer afterwards.