BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 5 months ago

In Michael Yon Gets What’s Coming To Him, I discussed Yon’s latest concerning the issue of MEDEVAC in Afghanistan and whether airborne vehicles should be required to both (a) carry a red cross, and (b) be unarmed.  The reader can review what I said concerning this issue, but I pointed out that “The U.S. Marine Corps doesn’t do business this way.”

Now comes Matthew Burden at Blackfive to respond to Michael (and I guess, me too).  I won’t rehearse what he says about the issue, and if he feels like it, Michael Yon can respond to Matt’s problems with the issue.  But of me, Matt says the following.

The Army is the only Service that is dedicated to this essential mission. In fact, other uninformed bloggers claim that the Marines don’t do Medevac.  That part is correct.  However, to assume that’s because “The U.S. Marine Corps doesn’t do business this way” is incorrect.  That is because the Army provides that service for the Marines, Navy, and Air Force.  Just like the Marines don’t do CSAR – because the USAF has the lead on that.  Not because they don’t do business that way (bold his).

Well, goodness.  So now I don’t warrant a note (and Matt has my e-mail address), and my name doesn’t even deserve honorable mention.  I am now just an “uninformed blogger.”  This is extremely bad form.  I expect such things from some of the bloggers at Blackfive, but I had not expected this of Matt.

I never made the claim that the Marines don’t do MEDEVAC.  I just made the claim that they didn’t do it that way.  Matt has conflated two issues, i.e., MEDEVAC in Afghanistan with MEDEVAC generally.  I also never made the claim that the Marines do MEDEVAC in Afghanistan.  But the Marines did in fact do MEDEVAC in Iraq.

Let’s rehearse just a bit.  These are some of the things I already know.  I am just linking and pointing them out so that you do too.  Here is a Marine Corps CH-46 (Sea Knight) performing MEDEVAC in Fallujah, Iraq.

Did you see any red crosses?  Here is another MEDEVAC.

And as for my own personal knowledge of this issue?  Do you recall this picture?

This was when my own son had to be MEDEVAC’d out of Fallujah in 2007 (this turned out to be a leg injury that didn’t require his return to the States, and after a week or two of light duty, he was with his fire team again).  He is being carried out, the Marine on the far left is carrying his SAW.

The bird he caught out of there?  Why, it was a CH-46, Sea Knight.  By the way, I have strongly recommended delay in retirement of this magnificent aircraft, since it is the only platform from which the Marines can fast rope (the V-22 cannot fulfill that function).  But then, that may be beside the point, and oh well, I guess I am just being an “informed blogger” again.  Sorry to bore you with the facts.

This helicopter – you know – the one which evacuated my own son – didn’t have a red cross, and was armed.  But just to make sure that my memory doesn’t fail me and to remind you that I did my fact checking, I called this Marine yesterday to make sure.  He said, “All Marine MEDEVAC was done with armed helicopters, and none of them had red crosses on the side.  Of course, it isn’t that way Stateside, but that’s not what you’re asking.”

So there.  I guess that closes the case for me – again.  The Marine Corps and Army do MEDEVAC differently.  Like I said, I expected better of Matt than this.  But then, that’s not a mistake I’ll make again.  How sad.

  • Charles Thornton

    Medevacs for my Marine unit back in 1970 were flown by Hueys of the Army’s 436th Medical Detachment out of Danang. They wore red crosses and were unarmed, which we thought was crazy, but we also thought they were heroes for coming after our WIAs and KIAs, often in horrible conditions. God bless those pilots and crews.

  • Garrett


    Long time lurker here at your blog.

    Respectfully, that Ch-46 is performing an evacuation in the CASEVAC role. MEDEVAC/CASEVAC are similar yet functionally very much different.

    Doctrinally, CASEVAC can be performed by any vehicle armed/unarmed and is most interested in expediting a casualty to a higher level of medical care. MEDEVAC is a task performed with clearly marked vehicles and are unarmed. This aerial method of evacuation of casualties from the battlefield has been designated to the Army and its organic assets in its Blackhawk fleet.


  • Herschel Smith

    The CH-46 which picked up my son was functioning in the MEDEVAC role, as was his unit when trauma Marines were rushed to Camp Fallujah with my son as the gunner in road-borne vehicles, with Marines actively bleeding out. These road-borne vehicles were not marked, and my actively laid down many rounds down range in protection of these vehicles.

    All you did was rehearse the difference between the way the Army looks at it and the way that the Marines look at it.

  • Herschel Smith

    Oh, and that first picture, that was MEDEVAC. He’s bleeding out.

  • Herschel Smith

    Now that I think about it, I need to be EVEN MORE CLEAR than what I have been (good grief, it seems that every word is parsed a thousand ways from Sunday).

    I am not going to be absolute in what I am about to say, because there were some Army (arty) and N.G., who served with the Marines in Ramadi in 2006, but as a rule, and as a normative statement, the Army didn’t service Marine combat wounded in the Anbar Province, whether MEDEVAC or CASEVAC. The Marines did their own, and they followed the stipulations I gave you.

    So when you give me the Army’s view of things, it isn’t relevant to what happened in the Anbar Province. The Army was, for the most part, absent from the Anbar Province.

  • Garrett

    Thank you for responding to my comment. I am also speaking in ignorance of the particulars of how Anbar was in 2006-2007. No disrespect was intended, and no parsing of words was in the forefront of my mind.

    Thank you for your time.

  • Herschel Smith

    No problem, and thanks for commenting rather than just lurking. It always makes for a better blog when commenters like you drop by and leave your mark. it helped me to flesh out lack of clarity in my own post.

  • Michael Yon


    Well done from your side.

    Insofar as Blackfive, there was a time when people listened to it. And then there was a period when people watched it with amusement. Blackfive can no longer attract serious authors or readers. Blackfive is a sort of Michael Moore with a different colored jersey. The bigger difference is that Michael Moore is more intelligent, more skilled, and far more driven.

    Michael Yon

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You are currently reading "Marine MEDEVAC", entry #8265 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Marine Corps,MEDEVAC and was published February 19th, 2012 by Herschel Smith.

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