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498th Medical Company (Air Ambulance)

In 2006, as part of a reorganization of Army aviation, the 498th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) relocated to Hunter Army Airfield, Savannah, Georgia. It was inactivated on 16 July 2006 and reflagged as C Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment and element of the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.

The mission of the 498th Medical Company was to provide aeromedical evacuation support and services to the XVIII Airborne Corps by clearing the battlefield of wounded soldiers, moving medical equipment, supplies, blood and medical personnel.

Although located on Fort Benning, Georgia, the 498th Medical Company was a subordinate unit of the 56th Medical Battalion (Evacuation), 44th Medical Brigade, and XIII Airborne Corps, all based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. As an integral part of the XVIII Airborne Corps, the 498th Medical Company was routinely called upon to deploy in support of our fighting forces during contingency missions.

In preparation for conducting its wartime mission, the 498th Medical Company provided year round direct support aeromedical evacuation support to the United States Army Infantry Center, 3/3rd Infantry Division, 3/75th Ranger Regiment, the Ranger Training Brigade, and the School of the Americas. Its daily garrison mission coverage also encompassed the United States Army Infantry Center (USAIC) and its multitude of schools including the Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, US Army Airborne, Ranger, Pathfinder, and Sniper School.

Both on and off the installation, the 498th Medical Brigade supported the 75th Ranger Training Brigade at their remote Ranger Training Camps at Camp Merrill in the mountains of North Georgia and Camp Rudder at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. On any given day, the unit had 3 aircrews covering Fort Benning, 2 aircrews at Fort Stewart, 2 aircrews at the Florida Ranger Camp, and one aircrew at the Mountain Ranger Camp.

The unit concurrently supported the local Emergency Medical System of Columbus, Georgia, and the surrounding communities through the Military Assistance to Safety and Traffic (MAST) Program. It also augmented the civilian medical evacuation system of Georgia and Alabama under the auspices of the MAST Program. Moreover, its was constantly conducting readiness training in support of contingency missions/plans (JRTC, NTC, CSAR, Disaster Relief).

The 498th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) was first constituted in the Regular Army as Company C, 57th Medical Battalion on 13 January 1941 and activated on 10 February 1941 at Fort Ord, California. On 10 September 1941, the unit was reorganized and redesignated as the 498th Collecting Company, and after serving in World War II, it was inactivated at Camp Shanks, New York on 24 October 1945.

The 498th Collecting Company was redesignated as the 498th Preventive Medicine Company on 11 September 1950 and activated on 2 October 1950 at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The unit was reorganized and redesignated as the 498th Medical Company on 19 June 1953 only to be inactivated on 24 September 1956 at Fort Meade, Maryland.

On 23 September 1964, the unit was activated as an air ambulance company at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and deployed to Vietnam. Upon return to the states in October 1971 the unit was relocated to Fort Benning, Georgia.

The unit subsequently deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Exercise Purple Dragon, Exercise Bright Star in Egypt, Hurricane Mitch Relief efforts in Central America, Operation Restore Hope in Haiti, the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, Operation Joint Guard in Bosnia, and Stablization Force 10 (SFOR-10) in Bosnia. The unit had earned 2 Meritorious Unit Citations, a Superior Army Unit, and a Joint Unit Citation.

As of late 2001, the 498th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) was authorized 141 soldiers and 15 UH-60A helicopters. The unit deployed as an element of the 56th Medical Battalion (Evacuation) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

The unit consisted of a Company Headquarters, a Flight Operations platoon, an Aviation Unit Maintenance platoon, and an Air Ambulance Evacuation platoon. When assigned to the corps and in the general support role, the preferred location of the air ambulance company and its assets was with the corps aviation brigade. When assigned to the division and in the direct support role, the preferred location of the air ambulance company and its assets was with the division aviation brigade. The air ambulance company commander would deploy assets of the area support MEDEVAC section and the forward support MEDEVAC team based on mission, enemy, terrain, troops, time available, and civilian considerations.

The 498th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) served with US Marine Corps elements in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom. This was the first time an Army air ambulance unit was placed with the Marines in direct support of combat operations. The Company deployed from Fort Benning, Georgia to Kuwait in January 2003, where it was attached to the Marines. In Iraq, the 498th Medical Company, nominally assigned to the 3d Medical Command, was attached to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF), the 3-star command home-based at Camp Pendleton, California that commanded all Marine units in the theater. It was further attached to Marine Air Group 39, a subordinate unit of the 3d Marine Air Wing.

The 498th Medical Company operated 14 UH-60 Black Hawks in Iraq (initially 15, but one required rebuild). The ASMS with its 5 aircraft flew back hauls of patients from Level II facilities in Iraq to Level III military medical facilities in Kuwait, and provided general support of the Marine headquarters and units in Kuwait. Captain Adrian Salvetti headed a consolidated team of 6 aircraft of FSMTs 1 and 2, which flew in support of the 1st Marine Division, co-locating with the Division Headquarters. Captain Jonathan Hartman's FSMT 3 with its 3 UH-60 Black Hawks supported Task Force Tarawa (the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade). This team also provided support for the British 1st Armoured Division during the initial week of the operation.

The company evacuated 740 patients in 314 missions during 1,687 flight hours, beginning on 20 March 2003 when ground operations commenced, and ending on 2 May 2003 when the 212th Medical Company (Air Ambulance), Maine National Guard, assumed the medical evacuation mission at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait. The 498th was recognized for its service by award of the Navy Unit Commendation Medal, and it returned to Fort Benning on 10 June 2003.

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