Flight Surgeon

By: Alana Adams
By: Alana Adams

Dr. Huey McDaniel is happy to be home with his wife and newborn son, but it was just a couple weeks ago that it was his life that was in danger as he worked to save the lives of others.
"I'm a vascular surgeon in my civilian life, and to be able to do what I do to help the troops was extraordinarily rewarding."

As Dr. McDaniel holds his son, only 11 days old, he talks about life in Iraq as a Flight surgeon with the 349th Medical Squadron out of Travis Air Force base in California.
McDaniel was overseas for two and a half month, arriving home just 10 days before his son was born.

"You really get worn out because the flights from the time you start to when you're actually finishing and getting your equipment up is 30 hours. And, that's 30 sleepless hours."

His main job was to help transport critically injured patients from Balad, just north of Baghdad in the Sunni Triangle, to another base in Germany.
He says they treated every patient the same, with the same urgency and care.

So, when they transported ABC news anchor, Bob Woodruff and his photographer, Doug Vogt, it was nothing new.
"You're in a 82-to-84 decibel environment. So, you can't hear anything. It's like standing next to a lawn mower that's running. So, for people like Woodruff and Doug Vogt, who had head injuries, you have an altitude restriction, so you fly at lower altitude."

In this case, he says flying at the lower altitude also opens up your aircraft to small arms fire.
Once the patients were safely on the ground in Germany, he says they packed up to go back for more.

"I had gotten a little email traffic from the producer that was with him about a month after he was injured, letting me know that he was improving. I was really happy to see him with his family. I think that medicine can do so much, but I think the best medicine is being around loved ones and that certainly has helped his recovery."

Dr. McDaniel says he would go back to Iraq, if necessary.
But, he says he will enjoy his family even more for now.


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