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Merry Christmas to all
14 WORLD NEWS
Army December 9, 2010
By AB Melanie Schinkel
EVERY DAY up to three Hercules arrive at
Kandahar Airfield (KAF) and, depending on opera-
tional tempo, they shift 20 to 400 ADF personnel in
and out of theatre each week.
An Army lieutenant and private and an Air Force
corporal form KAF's Joint Movement Control Office
(JMCO), which is responsible for co-ordinating the
movements of all Australian task groups throughout
Afghanistan, using KAF as a site to shift cargo and
passengers throughout the MEAO.
The team starts its day early to ensure each aircraft
is where it should be and the correct number of pas-
sengers arrive and are briefed for check in.
British expatriate and JMCO KAF platoon com-
mander Lt Alexander Spence has served in the ARA
for 10 years.
"Leading up to the colder months it's fairly quiet,
but we have just come out of one of our busiest peri-
ods, so my troops are enjoying a well-earned rest," Lt
"My role here is to look after the soldiers' well-
being and administration, as well as oversee all the
movement operations from KAF, Tarin Kot and
Lt Spence said during his six-month deployment
the biggest challenges he had encountered were a
result of KAF's dislocated position.
"There are a lot of moving parts to consider when
managing movements to and from three different
locations," he said. "So that has probably been the
hardest part, and just making sure that everyone gets
where they need to be on time.
"I assist personnel in returning back home to
Australia. Getting them on the aircraft and making
sure that they get back to their loved ones safely is the
most rewarding part for me."
Movements operator Pte Michael Griffin was due
to finish his six-month deployment in two-and-a-half
months and said he was longing to be reunited with
his wife and 10-year-old son in Canberra.
"The people I work with here have been really
supportive and always encourage me to do the best I
can and we have a lot of fun too," he said.
"I have met members of the Coalition parties'
defence forces and learned about different cultures,
which is great. But I'm really missing my wife and
son, so I'm looking forward to when I get to hug and
kiss them again."
By AB Melanie Schinkel
WO2 GREG Maher carefully
unwraps the two coins he was
awarded by the US Army and
talks about the American lives
he helped save.
As he hands over his 2 Bde
Combat Team coin, which he
was awarded for outstanding
performance by the US Army's
101 Airborne Div in October,
he points out an inscription that
reads, "I will always place the
mission first; I will never accept
defeat; I will never quit; I will
never leave a fallen comrade."
A medic by trade, WO2
Maher has been working at
Kandahar Airfield (KAF),
Afghanistan as an embedded staff
officer with Coalition forces for
the past six months.
On August 22 during a rou-
tine auditing visit to Forward
Operating Base (FOB) Wilson in
the Zhari Province, WO2 Maher
and his American colleagues took
heavy fire from insurgents with
"We heard the rockets hit
the ground -- screams followed.
Everyone just ran towards the
shelters and at that split second an
American surgeon, Lt-Col Mike
Wirt, and I just ran, ran as hard as
we could to get to the compound
where the screams were coming
from," WO2 Maher said.
"In a flash, everything I'd
been taught just kicked into gear.
Three US personnel had sustained
quite a bit of trauma. A few oth-
ers, who appeared to be in shock,
were also wounded.
"I directed Lt-Col Wirt to the
bloodiest casualty, who had a lacer-
ated throat. He ran over, secured
Dose of bravery
the casualty's throat and airway and
made the casualty virtually strangle
himself to stop the bleeding."
As WO2 Maher screamed
out for an evacuation vehicle, he
found another US soldier writhing
in pain on the compound floor.
"It looked like he had some-
thing wrong with his chest, so I
tore off his shirt and found he had
shrapnel all through his back and
down to his butt. He was para-
lysed with shock, so I threw him
over my shoulder and ran out to
the Gator vehicle," he said.
"We moved the rest of the
casualties into the Gator and
screamed off towards the Role 2,
where we helped with triage and
getting the casualties secured
before they were aeromedically
evacuated to KAF's Role 3 hospi-
tal for treatment.
"It was a great Coalition
achievement because all the casu-
He said that since the incident,
he had become quite close with
the casualties he helped save and
he still frequently worked with
"Looking back now I think,
geez, a lot of people wouldn't do
that. There's a reason you don't
run out in the middle of a rocket
"When I went home briefly
for leave, I told my wife about
what happened -- she wasn't too
impressed. She's very proud of
me but said, 'don't ever do that
"I often stop and think to
myself, my god, why did I do
that, but I know why -- my mates
were in trouble and they needed
Job well done: US Army surgeon Lt-Col Mike Wirt presents WO2 Greg Maher with the 2 Bde
Combat Team coin at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
control has its
left, Lt Alexander
Spence and Cpl
Photo by AB Jo
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