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"Muleskinners" prepare for relocation from JSS War Eagle

Jul 30, 2009

By Pfc. Bailey Anne Jester, MND-B PAO

JSS WAR EAGLE, Iraq - Medics from Company C, 115th "Muleskinners" Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division began packing July 28 to relocate from Joint Security Station War Eagle to Camp Taji, Iraq.

"This is going to be a big move, we are anticipating more patients and responsibility once we arrive," said Chino, Calif. native, Sgt. David Freston, day shift noncommissioned officer in charge. "We will be responsible for about 20,000 people."

"Muleskinner" medics are currently running a level two aid station out of a level one facility.

"A level two aid station has the ability to run lab work and take x-rays," said Spc. Ruth Freston, a Co. C team leader. "Overall a level two is more advanced than a level one, which holds fewer patients and is not as well equipped."

Moving to a bigger aid station, responsibility for housing more supplies
and treating a significantly larger amount of patients, may present several challenges.

"Being in a bigger facility with more responsibility will create more work for me and my Soldiers, and I strongly believe that we are capable and ready for this challenge," said Sgt. Freston.

Although the responsibility of these Soldiers is growing, it isn't the only challenge they are going to face.

To ensure that the equipment will make it to Camp Taji safely and in one piece, it will all be inventoried, tightly packed, checked and double-checked.

The inventory process includes conducting a thorough inspection of everything from high value items, such as x-ray and dental machines, to basic medical supplies.

The high value items will be secured in their cases and tightly packed into connexes to reduce the amount of shifting and sliding while en route.

"Making sure that all the equipment is accounted for and packed to ensure nothing will be broken or misplaced is harder than you would think," said Spc. Freston.

While working on inventorying the equipment, Leesville, La. native, Cpl. Brett Montiville, x-ray technician, said he was excited about the move to Taji.

"There is more to do in your free time, and definitely better food," he said. Then after chuckling to himself, he added, "but, I will miss the people here."

The "Muleskinners" headquarters is already based out of Camp Taji, which is one reason Ruth Freston is excited to be heading back.

"Not only will we be closer to our battalion, but we will be closer to a bigger and better dining facility," Ruth Freston said jokingly.

In order to help make the change-over process go as smooth and painless as possible, medics from the unit will stay behind to work with the new incoming medics.

"We will work right-seat, left-seat with the unit there at Taji and the one coming here to replace us," said Ruth Freston. "This will help ensure a smoother transition in the end."

The "Muleskinners" medics will supply the Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. with enough basic medical equipment to begin their mission.

"We want them to be able to hit the ground running when they arrive," said David Freston.

The Co. C Soldiers are moving to Taji to replace the medics from 382nd Pennsylvania National Guard.

"Not only is it almost time for them to be returning home, but us returning to Taji is a sign of being closer to the end of our deployment," said Ruth Freston.

Even though relocating back to Camp Taji is exciting to many of the medics, some have mixed feelings about returning.

"I like it here at WarEagle," said Orange County, Calif. native Pfc. Candice Stark, a medic for the "Muleskinners", "but, I will go wherever the mission takes me."



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