WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force active-duty, Reserve and Guard enlisted medics were among those from all service components honored at the Armed Services YMCA's 5th Annual Angels of the Battlefield Gala at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center here March 31.
Army Gen. Raymond Odierno, the commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command, gave the keynote address at the event, which honored corpsmen and medics from 10 components of active-duty, Guard and Reserve branches.
ASYMCA officials worked with officials from the military services to select corpsmen and medics from the Army, Army Reserve, Navy, Navy Reserve, Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air National Guard and Army Guard, who accepted the awards on behalf of their fellow corpsmen and medics for their dedication and commitment to service.
"Our nation's medics and corpsmen have evolved to meet the changing needs of their brothers-in-arms," said Air Force Gen. (Ret.) Eugene E. Habiger, the chairman of the National Board of Directors of the ASYMCA. "These 'angels of the battlefield' are men and women who risk everything to provide aid, to be compassionate comrades, and comfort brothers and sisters when our Soldiers need it the most. Their unwavering heroism is something that moves me every year that I am fortunate enough to be in their company at this fine event, and as a retired Airman, something I never took for granted in my many years of service."
The Air Force members who accepted awards on behalf of their fellow component medics are:
Active duty -- Staff Sgt. Abraham Jara, assigned to the 579th Medical Group at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, is the first in his family to serve in the military. He was inspired to join the Air Force after an Airman left a strong impression at his second-grade "career day."
The North Hollywood, Calif., native was deployed to Panjshir, Afghanistan, from June 2009 through March 2010. Sergeant Jara received the Air Force Combat Action Medal for securing the safety of individuals in his vehicle while encountering a small arms ambush while on convoy duty. He said that one of the most rewarding aspects of being a medic is experiencing the gratefulness of the individuals or the family members of someone he saved.
Reserve -- Tech. Sgt. Christina Wiskowski, assigned to the 514th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., was studying pre-med in college before deciding to enlist and has since been deployed three times.
The Bryn Mawr, Pa., native has received the Aerial Achievement Medal and twice was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal, after her exemplary performance in two of her deployments. While deployed at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, she flew in nine combat missions and safely transported 65 patients. During another mission in Afghanistan, Sergeant Wiskowski and her unit, despite being physically and emotionally exhausted, safely evacuated patients from a fire and managed to replace equipment and continue on to their original destination.
Guard -- Senior Airman Candice Cook, assigned to the 171st Air Refueling Wing Medical Group at Coraopolis, Pa., joined the Air National Guard in 2008 and continues her family's military tradition after her father and grandfather.
Airman Cook received the Army Commendation Medal and Iraq Campaign Medal for her tour in 2010, during which time she organized the equipment and coordinated convoy movements. The Pittsburgh native said the military has offered her many educational opportunities, and she has gained valuable experience working in the medical field.