Conflict & Justice

Cleaning up after war


Staff Sgt. Stephon Flynn, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Matt Grove, Spc. Josh Diehl and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Greg Love polish the windows of their medevac helicopter at Forward Operating Base Pasab in Zhari July 2.


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After a helicopter medevac mission, when the rotors stop turning and the screaming turbines wind down, the crew's job is not over. Often there is a significant amount of cleaning to be done before they can go out again.

All of the Black Hawk's glass needs to be regularly cleaned — the result of countless 200 mph collisions with Kandahar's various insect species. Some particularly tough bug splatters need to be scraped off with a credit card.

During a mission on July 3, a medevac crew from Charlie Company, 1/52 Aviation, picked up an Afghan soldier who had bled to death on the battlefield and continued bleeding in the aircraft. After delivering him to the morgue at Kandahar Airfield, the pilots asked their base's fire department to come out and hose out their helicopter when they returned. 

The Forward Operating Base Pasab fire department was happy to oblige, for the second time that day. As they turned on the high-pressure hose, a river of blood washed over the door sills and the smell of iron rose from the hot gravel below.