A C-17 and Airmen from multiple bases flew a 41-hour, 6,866 mile emergency airlift mission across 12 time zones to bring one-month-old twins of U.S. Soldiers to the Washington area for emergency neonatal care.
Two parents serving at Camp Walker in South Korea’s epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak had been in COVID-19 quarantine since early March, when their twins were born at a hospital in Daegu. The twins needed neonatal care, which is not available at military hospitals in the region, so the Brian D. Allgood Army Community Hospital at the base asked Pacific Air Forces for help. Once the quarantine period ended, the USAF medical evacuation apparatus sprung into action.
On March 29, a C-17 from the 15th Wing at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, with an augmented front crew from the 204th Airlift Squadron there; two crewmembers from the 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Japan; and two NICU staff from the 18th Medical Group at Kadena departed the Japan base to stage at Osan, where they remained overnight.
The next day, the crew, the parents, and the infants flew from Osan to JBER for refueling and rest, before continuing on to Joint Base Andrews, Md., touching down about 16.4 hours after the flight began.
Once landing, the twins were taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. for the long-term NICU care they need, according to Air Mobility Command.
“Air Mobility Command’s airlifters take great pride in hauling massive, outsized cargoes across the globe in support of our Joint Force partners,” the command said in a statement. “However, sometimes it only takes five pounds of precious cargo to generate an all-hands-on-deck effort.”
Editor’s Note: This story was updated on April 8 at 9:52 a.m. EDT to correct the locations where the infants were evacuated to for care and received treatment. It was previously updated on April 1 at 9:41 a.m. EDT to correct the 15th Wing’s location and the number of bases involved in the aeromedical evacuation.