349th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron [349th AES]
The 349th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron has a rich history of military and humanitarian service to the United States since it was formed in 1970. The squadron traces its origins to that of its predecessor aeromedical evacuation squadrons, the 31st AES at McClellan Air Force Base, near Sacramento, and the 65th AES at Hamilton Air Force Base, near San Francisco, which were combined to form the current squadron. The establishment of the new squadron at Travis Air Force Base marked the emergence of aeromedical evacuation in the Air Force Reserve to the C-141 jet fleet. As of 1997, the squadron was one of three West Coast Air Force Reserve organizations whose mission is to perform strategic aeromedical airlift aboard the C-141 Starlifter.
As of mid-2001, the 349th AES is one of three Air Force Reserve organizations on the West Coast whose mission is to perform strategic aeromedical airlift. More than 95 percent of the Air Force's resources for aeromedical airlift are in the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard. As a result, reserve AE units are heavily relied upon to support the actual (live) patient missions which are flown throughout the world to airlift patients from their home bases to larger medical facilities for treatment. As of mid-2001, the Air Force Reserve provides 100 percent of the aeromedical evacuation service to and within Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, where military personnel and their dependents serve.
Shortly following conversion to the C-141 aircraft system, the men and women of the squadron were called upon to provide aeromedical airlift support during Operation Homecoming, which involved the repatriation of prisoners of the Vietnam War. Indeed a medical crew from the squadron was on the first C-141 to land in Hanoi to receive POWs, and squadron crews flew many more missions between North Vietnam, the Philippine Islands, and the United States. In 1975 squadron members again distinguished themselves during Operation Babylift. This involved the aeromedical airlift and evacuation of children from South Vietnam, through the Philippine Islands and Guam to Travis Air Force Base.
More recently, during Operation Desert Shield, aeromedical evacuation crews were among the first reservists to be recalled to active duty. Personnel from the 349th AES (still called the 65th AES at that time) were involved in early Persian Gulf operations on a volunteer basis and were instrumental in establishing and operating patient airlift centers in Saudi Arabia, Germany, and the United Kingdom. During Operation Desert Storm, the unit activated and deployed 211 personnel, comprising 35 aeromedical evacuation crews, and air-evac operations components based between Saudi Arabia, Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and RAF Waddington, United Kingdom. In addition, the squadron established and managed the Aeromedical Evacuation Control Element at RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom.
In the early 1990s, the squadron had crews staged in Cairo, Egypt, flying both scheduled and urgent patient airlift missions in support of US and United Nations troops in Somalia.
The mission of the 349th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron is to train nurses, medical specialists and flight operations personnel in aeromedical evacuation, so that the squadron is prepared to fulfill its wartime role. This role is to deploy 40 aeromedical evacuation crews worldwide with supporting personnel and equipment to fly strategic missions; and, to establish an Aeromedical Evacuation Operations Team to manage crews and missions. The unit reports to the 349th Operations Group Commander.
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