More than a dozen women from the Christian House of Prayer sat in the bleachers of Abrams Physical Fitness Center on Nov. 6, awaiting the arrival of the 1st Medical Brigade and their friend, Master Sgt. Charolette Harvey.
“We are surprising her,” said Heike Hills, a friend of Harvey’s. Harvey was told only two women were coming to the late-night ceremony to welcome about 60 members of the “Silver Knight” brigade back from nine months in Afghanistan.
When Harvey met her friends, she cried and laughed as she hugged each one. Once every friend had been hugged, they encircled Harvey and burst into cheers, waving American flags high overhead.
“Oh, wow,” was all Harvey could say. In the five times she’s been deployed, this was the first time she’d had such a warm welcome home. “I can’t even explain it, because they prayed for me and brought us all back.”
During the deployment, the brigade served as the medical headquarters for all of Afghanistan. The task force included 2,000 service members from all military branches, and maintained a 98 percent survival rate of injured soldiers who made it to their hospitals, said Col. Bruce McVeigh, brigade commander. That percentage has not been seen in any war, he added.
“What soldiers knew was, when they got to our doors, their lives would be saved,” he said.
As part of the task force, the Silver Knights contributed to supporting 73,449 patients who filled 17,796 beds. During the nine months, more than 8,244 surgeries were conducted with 23,895 units of blood administered and 2,794 soldiers were evacuated out of theater.
“This task force was a true life-saving machine in what was a very busy fighting season,” McVeigh said.
Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Mullaney said one asset to life-saving during the deployment was the ability to get blood on aircraft. Medics were able to hang blood bags inside the aircraft while transporting the severely wounded, which Mullaney said increased the chance of saving a life.
Another capability the brigade used were mobile surgical teams.
“Because the theater is getting smaller, it gave the commander the capability to take (the team) with them,” Mullaney said. This allowed for a quicker response time.
“The things we accomplished were unheralded,” he said.