By Army Pfc. Terence Ewings
Special to American Forces Press Service
Aug. 1, 2008 - Six months ago, Army Maj. Donald Crider was teaching high school physics in Seattle. Today, he's assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team, flying helicopters in southeastern Iraq. Crider was activated from the Inactive Ready Reserve to deploy with the 126th Aviation Regiment as a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot. He flies on medical evacuation missions.
"We are here for the soldiers [and] to make sure we can respond to any kind of medical help they would need," Crider explained. He added that his transition from the classroom to the cockpit only intensified his motivation to help the soldiers here. "It's moving to know you are the difference between someone living and dying," he said.
The Seattle native who helped students learn physics for five years now is helping soldiers feel secure on the Iraqi battlefield.
U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq's Maysan province work with the local Iraqi security forces to stop weapons smuggling along the Iraqi-Iranian border. They can take comfort in knowing Crider's unit is ready to swoop in, pick up the injured, and evacuate them to the nearest combat support hospital should it be necessary.
With 15 years invested in military service, Crider said, he understands the need to get injured troops into medical hands quickly.
"Knowing the military has given me the capabilities to make a difference to get within that golden hour and help someone, it's awe-striking," he said.
(Army Pfc. Terence Ewings serves with the 1st Cavalry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)