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In Uniform

In Uniform Sept. 25, 2008 Justin P. Mathews
By Observer News Staff
Sep 25, 2008 - 4:00:40 PM

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Aeromedical evacuation missions at Ramstein Air Base in Germany

By Phyllis Hanson
Ramstein Air Base, Germany 
Overlooking Burg Nanstein Castle sits the 600-year-old city of Landstuhl, Germany. Just beyond the city is the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and Ramstein Air Base.

It’s hard to believe at first glance that the son of a Riverview couple is smack dab in the middle of the fight against terrorism. He lives amid a storybook setting with ­verdant forested hills dotted with ancient castles, red-tiled cottages and fields swelling with the fruit of the vine.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Justin P. Mathews (Photos by Brian Ferguson)

But for Air Force Staff Sgt. ­Justin P. Mathews, son of Jay and Barb Mathews, Sedgebrook Drive, Riverview, the realities and results of the war against terrorism are evident almost daily. Mathews is an electro environmental specialist assigned to the 723rd Air Mobility Squadron at Germany’s largest air base, responsible for transporting wounded service members from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghan­istan on to hospitals and treatment centers for follow-up care in ­Germany or the U.S.

Air Force and Army members assigned to various medical squadrons and units offload a wounded warrior being returned from the Middle East. Landstuhl Regional Medical Center located in Germany is often the first stop for wounded service members and civilians leaving the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Quite simply, I fix the airplanes that fly in and out of Ramstein,” said Mathews, a 2000 graduate of Riverview High School. Units at Ramstein come together in support and operations roles to help treat and transport the sick and wounded by air and ambulance and on to definitive care, either back to the United States or to nearby Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.  Since 2003, a “total force” of Air Force, Army Navy active duty, ­Reserve and Guard members has provided support and care for more than 80,000 patients.

A medical evacuation bus is offloaded at the Ramstein Air Base, Germany, tarmac. Wounded patients will be aeromedically evacuated on the awaiting C-17 Globemaster III and return to the States to receive further medical treatment. Air Force members load patients onto a C-17 Globe Master III on the Ramstein Air Base, Germany, tarmac.

“We’re the busiest en route air base in the world. Our mission is important because we help get troops to where they need to be along with the supplies they will need,” said Mathews. “Without us, planes wouldn’t fly,” he said.  Despite the long hours and working in one of the more stressful jobs in the Air Force, Mathews and his fellow crew members, live in an idyllic background that few Americans get the privilege to experience. “Germany is great.  The language barrier makes it a ­challenge, but the travel is great.”

During an Air Force career that has spanned five years, Mathews has been assigned to such places as McChord Air Force Base, WA, and Pope Air Force Base, NC.

© Copyright 2008 by The Observer News Publications and M&M Printing Company, Inc.

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