Members of Joint Task Force Bravo’s (JTF-Bravo) U.S. Army Air Ambulance Detachment (USAAAD), 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment conducted live hoist and Skedco hoist training, October 11, 2021 in Santiago, Panama.
The training was in support of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), which is working around the clock to find the remains of two American naval aviators who crashed in the Panamanian mountains in 1985.
Along with DPAA, the USAAAD worked closely with the Panamanian National Air and Naval Service (SENAN, in Spanish) and other Panamanian security forces.
The USAAAD, also known as the Witch Doctors, began the training with a Medical 101 led by U.S. Army Staff Sergeant William Bavetta, a flight medic with the 228th, and Sergeant Alexander Evans, a UH-60 Blackhawk crew chief, where they explained the best practices and techniques to execute live hoist operations.
Additionally, members of SENAN joined the exercise by sitting on the rescue seat and were coached on tagline positioning and how to maneuver when hoisted from the aircraft.
“For the next two months, the DPAA team will search, dig, and traverse their way across a 6,000-foot-tall mountain, knowing confidently that if someone needs help, USAAAD stands on-call and ready to evacuate them to life-saving medical care,” remarked U.S. Army Captain Jillian O’Hara, the Company commander. “Live hoist is a mission task my company trains on weekly to maintain proficiency, however this iteration was very unique in that it set the conditions for DPAA and SENAN to execute their mission.”
DPAA is the U.S. government’s primary agency responsible for fulfilling our nation’s promise, to account for missing service members and help bring closure to the families and their loved ones.
As DPAA searches for the remains, they can rest assured that if they ever need help, there’s well-equipped and well-trained JTF-Bravo personnel standing by to provide assistance at a moment’s notice.
“We are completely honored and humbled to support such an amazing organization and mission,” added Capt. O’Hara. “Through our combined efforts and support of each other, we hope these patriots are brought home to their families.”