159th DUSTOFF! Forward

Afghanistan Detachment

Doing What We Do Best-Anywhere In The World.


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159th Ship Approaching Another Mission LZ - September 2004

Medic SSG Makonen Campbell holds an Afghani child on a medical mission to Asadabad, Afghanistan.   



Specialist Rick Gordon, Crew Chief, calls the aircraft over a target for a rough terrain hoist mission.

On a two-ship mission as seen from Dustoff 55, Dustoff 54 loads patients at an ambush site near the Pakistani border.                       

CW3 Erick Swanberg scans the surrounding ridgelines from Dustoff 55 during an ambush site pickup.

Photos by CW2 Will O'Donnell.

SGT Sonya Clary & SPC John Ybarra & perform the ever-essential and critical mission of maintaining  readiness and safety of the birds and their crews.

CW2 Dave Clark stands beside one of the 159th's ships, ready for the next mission.

"The 159th Legacy Continues...The Legend Grows".

The colors of the 159th in Vietnam fly aboard a 159th Black Hawk in Afghanistan.


And This Just In...

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Special delivery: Soldiers help Afghan mother give birth aboard Black Hawk

By Kent Harris, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Monday, March 14, 2005

Michael Abrams / S&S
Peer Mullah Khan, his wife Melawa and their new-born daughter in a 249th General Hospital ward on Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. The yet unnamed baby was born in a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter on Saturday.

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan — The population of Afghanistan grew slightly Saturday, thanks in part to a pair of Black Hawk crews and a 25-year-old flight medic from Wiesbaden, Germany.

Army Spc. Kyle Storbakken helped an Afghan mother deliver a healthy 6½-pound baby while aboard the Black Hawk flying to the U.S. military base Salerno.

“This was my first delivery,” Storbakken said via a phone interview from Salerno, a remote base a few hours away by helicopter from Bagram.

It was the first such delivery that anyone associated with the current medical mission in country had knowledge of. Col. John Giddens, the commander of the 249th General Hospital at Bagram, said most Afghans the hospital sees are those critically injured by mines, accidents or attacks by anti-coalition forces.

“It’s very nice to have a joyful emergency coming through our doors,” he said.

Peer Mullah Khan, the baby's father, is a leader of the village next to the U.S. outpost at Skhin. Through a translator, he said he came to U.S. troops for help when his wife started struggling during labor.

Giving birth isn’t a new experience for his wife, Melawa. The baby girl, who hasn’t been named yet, is the couple’s 14th child. Two have died, but the others — ranging from the newest addition to a 19-year old girl — make for a large family. Two sons currently serve in the Afghan army.

American officials said they agreed to take the mother and father aboard the aircraft because it appeared that the placenta was between the baby and the birth canal, potentially putting both lives at risk. Fortunately, that turned out to not be the case.

In order to save time, one helicopter was dispatched from Salerno to Skhin to pick up the mother while another left Bagram to fly to Salerno. While the first helicopter was on its way back from the village to Salerno, the mother gave birth.

Storbakken, assigned to the 159th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) at Wiesbaden, said he couldn’t recall any specific emotions he had while helping deliver the baby.

“I guess you don’t really think about what’s going on until it’s all over,” he said.

Capt. Richard Mangini, the executive officer of the 68th Medical Company, of which Storbakken is a part, said in-air births are a rarity. And it was even more special because of who was delivering the baby.

“He’s our youngest and probably most inexperienced medic in terms of time on the job,” he said.

Storbakken said he’s already received several good-natured jabs by his peers.

“Some of the guys have been calling me daddy,” he said.

The real father and mother were expected to travel back to Salerno from Bagram on Monday with the newest member of their family

"Assistant Stork" SPC Kyle Storbakken.  Prepared for protecting his crew and patients--Dedicated to saving lives and bringing new ones into the world!


We're STILL sending packages of comfort items to the guys and gals in Afghanistan just like we did when they were in Iraq.  Please let me know if you want to help, and I'll get you the "how-to" information.  Thanks, Randy

From the Detachment Commander-22 March 2005


We have now recieved 3 of your packages... thanks so much! the cookies are going quickly, and the third box of snacks and stuff is going down with me to FOB near the pakistan border. it's very well appreciated, and I love telling people how it's sent by vietnam veterans who served in 159th...

will send the flag and the patch soon... I still have to get all the guys together and get a picture. thanks again!



23 March 2005

Hi Randy,

ha ha, you certainly are not a pest... we thank you for everything you guys do for us...

we fly quite a bit... I am not sure what the real average is but it feels about like a mission a day. it's slower in the winter and busier in the summer. personally, it's looking like I will leave here with about 300-350 hours in country... our medics will leave with about 150-200 hours.

Bagram is definitely hard to find on a map. Kabul is in eastern afghanistan, and Bagram is about 20 miles north of Kabul. there's not really a city here, so it's not marked on any civilian maps (although the airfield might be). we also keep a few ships in Kandahar, which is in southeastern Afghanistan.

take care! thanks so very much for your support,



159th's AO


Holy Cow Old 159'ers, LOOK AT THIS!

And just in case you can't believe your eyes, look closely at the inset photo.  Yes, that IS the old Vietnam patch we wore way back then as we were flying our missions.  I don't mind admitting that in addition to lots of memories, it also brings tears to my eyes, as well as a lump in my throat.  The DUSTOFF tradition continues - these great troops have given us another reason to be proud of them!  Please read the E-Mail message below from them.


02 April, 2005


here is a new pic for the website... it's an interesting story - my guys were very taken with the flag you sent, and they decided to have some "old school" patches made for their uniforms. if you look closely, you will recognize the patches on their flight suits. well, a 1LT Iannuccilli stopped us outside the chow hall the other day and asked if he could have a picture taken with us. he told us his father was a flight medic in vietnam and recognized those patches as the ones his dad used to wear! so, as you can see in the picture, 159th came full circle... take care,


p.s. pictured, left to right, are CW2 David Clark, SGT Rachel Campbell, 1LT Iannuccilli, CW2 William O'Donnell, and SPC Rick Gordon


21 April, 2005


great to hear from you and thanks for checking up on us... believe it or not, we are doing better than ok! I am sure if you think back you will remember the feeling of doing a real good mission and the patient pulling through ok. we had one like that just a few hours ago... kyle (the stork) storbakken was my medic on this one, and we hoisted him down to pull an Afghan soldier off of a really steep ridge. he made it back just fine, and it's a great feeling. the doc said if we had been just a few minutes later, he might not have made it...

well, I will gather some pics for you... I know I have been slacking on keeping up with that! ... take care,


                                                            Photo for above E-Mail - rm

Smiles all around for a successful mission and safe return.

                    L-R: SPC Kyle "The Stork" Storbakken, Medic, SPC Russell Walker, Crew Chief,  and pilots CW2 Jim Neal and 1LT Jeff Horton.       (sorry, they didn't identify which was the AC-rm)



DUSTOFF Family and Friends, check back periodically.  I will make postings as I get them.  In the meantime, keep all our troops in your thoughts and prayers, and remember their families also!