March 27, 2006
By KOMO Staff & News Services
TACOMA - An Army medical helicopter unit at Fort Lewis, used in civilian
rescues for more than 30 years, will be deactivated next month.
The 54th Medical Company is being shut down as part of a reorganization in
the Army's aviation division. The unit's UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters are
being shipped to other posts and the 150 flight medics, pilots and support
soldiers are moving on to new assignments.
The unit is scheduled for deactivation on April 13.
"We always thought they'd be here," said Ken Parrish, a program manager for
Pierce County's Department of Emergency Management. "They've been a
tremendous asset to Washington state and Pierce County."
The 54th was part of the Military Assistance to Safety and Traffic (MAST)
program and often flew to assist civilians in rescue situations. MAST calls
were often made to help lost and injured hikers, for rural car crashes and
to provide medical assistance in remote areas.
"We have a real-world mission even in peacetime," said Chief Warrant Officer
4 Chris Walker, a Black Hawk pilot. "Every time the phone goes off, you knew
someone was relying on us to get there."
The 54th arrived at Fort Lewis from Vietnam in 1972 and has spent two of the
last three years in Iraq. Officials from Pierce, King, Snohomish and Kitsap
counties have hired a consultant to suggest options for replacing the
services the 54th supplied.
They can always stick another dime onto the gas tax to pay for a dozen Black Hawks and crews.
You fly, I'll Run Comms, R32 can be the Medic, and RS_coyote can be the door gunner.
I have done lots and lots and lots of work with the 54th...
This story is really old news, DOD has stopped supporting civi op's in this area for about 2 years now with helo's...
I needed one last year and the only one I could get was Puddle Pirates out of oregon...
Part of this is the WOT, part is the Guard Helo that crashed in Oregon a couple years back..
Sno and King Co have the birds, the hoists are the prob, there are no insurance company's that are willing to take on the policy.