U.S. Army medic Sgt. Jaime Adame hauled open the door and lunged from the helicopter into a cloud of dirt and confusion.
He could hear bursts of incoming fire above the thumping rotor blades. Somewhere in the billowing red smoke that marked the landing zone and the choking dust whipped up by the medevac chopper was a cluster of Marines pinned down by heavy fire, and one of them was bleeding badly.
The problem for Adame was that he did not know where.
Adame had dropped into “hot L-Zs” before but this one was especially thick with commotion. Every second of indecision mattered, so he just ran, knowing any direction was dangerous. Only then did the cloud clear enough to bring into view the blurred outline of several Marines’ boots peeking out of the vehicle they were taking cover under.
“The fear I have never lost,” said Adame, who’s from Los Angeles. “It’s absolutely risky … and it will definitely get a lot more dangerous.”
With the spring fighting season underway in Helmand province in Afghanistan’s volatile south, the medics, crew chiefs and pilots with the U.S. Army’s “Dustoff” medevac unit expect a rising number of casualties. Coalition troops are seeing stepped-up attacks, the use of complex weapons systems such as multiple-grenade launchers and the continuing plague of improvised explosive devices on the battlefield.