2004-06-18 / Community

Local An Aero Medical Specialist

Local An Aero Medical Specialist


Air Force Master Sgt. Rochelle M. Babin is assigned to the intensive care unit at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. Babin helped treat wounded service members during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Photo by Derrick Goode)Air Force Master Sgt. Rochelle M. Babin is assigned to the intensive care unit at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. Babin helped treat wounded service members during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. (Photo by Derrick Goode)

Right after their historic first flight in North Carolina in December of 1903, the Wright Brothers returned home to this area to refine heavier than air flight at this city known as the Birthplace of Aviation.

But, as the daughter of a Far Rockaway man can tell you, the Dayton area’s contributions to the world of aviation continue 100 years later at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, an installation that has played a major part in most aviation advancements for the better part of a century.

Air Force Master Sgt. Rochelle M. Babin, daughter of Allen C. Frazier IV, of Seagirt Boulevard., says that it’s not just the major advancements in aviation that are made on a regular basis here that keeps the base relevant these days.  Airmen here also play a critical role in the aeromedical evacuation of service members wounded overseas.

The driving force behind the aeromedical evacuation mission at this western Ohio base is the 445th Airlift Wing. But no matter what unit they’re assigned to, the majority of the airmen at Wright-Patterson support that life-saving mission in one way or another, including Babin, who is an aerospace medical service craftsman.

"I ensure medics are trained, physically fit and ready to deploy at any time," said the 1980 graduate of Martin Van Buren High School in Queens Village. "I manage 28 medical technicians in a 12-bed intensive care unit. To me, our overall mission is the same as any Air Force member –

keep ‘em flying."

Although Wright-Patterson airmen put forth great effort to ensure its success, the base’s role in the overall aeromedical evacuation mission is just one piece in an expansive operation that involves people and aircraft from many different places: Ramstein AB, Germany; Scott AFB, Ill.; Andrews AFB, Md.; and Travis AFB, Calif., just to name a few.

The overall operation has evacuated more than 10,000 wounded or ill patients from the U.S. Central Command region - which includes Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait - since March 2003. And while the quick operations tempo and sheer numbers of patients can prove overwhelming at times, Babin and her fellow airmen know that each person loaded onto those aircraft represents precious cargo to someone, somewhere. "I had lung cancer and was a patient at this facility before," she said. "It gave me a new perspective on how it feels to be on the other side. I received wonderful, compassionate and professional care and I want to ensure all patients we treat get the same thing.  I strive to let our patients know that we care about them."

While spending time away from home, going into harm’s way and seeing things most people would rather not see can come hand-in-hand with serving in today’s military, the airmen making the aeromedical evacuation operation happen every day don’t allow distractions to take away from their mission.

"My team’s mission is to provide expert critical care to active duty soldiers, dependents and retirees," she said. "I have a unique opportunity to care for soldiers during a critical time

in our history."

Orville and Wilbur Wright came home to Dayton in 1904 to fine-tune what they began at Kitty Hawk, N.C., the previous December. One hundred years later at this birthplace of aviation, Babin and her fellow airmen keep moving forward, fueled by the Wright Brothers’ dream to keep flying faster, higher, farther and safer, and their own desires to help those wounded in war recover and get on with their lives.


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