By Sgt. Nathan Baker
Utah National Guard
Approximately 40 Soldiers from the 144th Area Support Medical Company, Utah National Guard, worked as a Role 2 medical treatment center during exercise African Lion 21 near Tantan, Morocco, June 7-18, 2021.
The group, consisting of combat medics and other medical providers, primarily focused on treating injured Soldiers directly participating in the exercise. They worked side-by-side with varying medical specialties from field medics to surgeons.
Although the 144th ASMC was the largest section within the Role 2 medical treatment facility, they worked alongside medical providers from the 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Georgia National Guard, and the 932nd Forward Resuscitative Surgical Team, a Reserve unit based in Indianapolis.
“Neither of us have worked together. It was nice to see that there was a quick easy mesh," said Col. Stephen Lawson, a general surgeon with the 932nd FRST.
The medical professionals of the 144th ASMC were ready to treat any number of injuries. They are equipped to treat medical and trauma emergencies, with lab services, an x-ray machine, and even with a mental health specialist.
"We treat anything from the sniffles, to somebody dropping a round on their foot, or even getting their hand stuck in something,” said Spc. Justin Willden, a combat medic with the 144th ASMC. “We figure out what their needs might be and go from there.”
"The role of this unit is to save life and limb of the Soldier, " added Lawson.
A common thread among many members of the Role 2 treatment facility is that they feel compelled to be in the medical field.
"Since I was little, I always wanted to be a doctor," said Maj. Shana Godfred-Cato, the 648th MEB surgeon. "I've always wanted to be in medicine, I've always found it fascinating. I enjoy helping people."
Wilden said he has enjoyed his time working with his fellow medics during the exercise. The unit has a positive attitude and he has enjoyed his time overall.
"I really value the hands-on experience I am getting here," he said.
"t's been a wonderful experience coming out here. I would do it again in a heartbeat," said 1st Lt. Kyle Muir, a medical-surgical nurse with the 144th ASMC.
There was a great camaraderie within the unit. Although most Soldiers within the 144th ASMC have not worked closely together they enjoyed their time working together in Morocco.
"My favorite part about the unit is how close the unit is and how we come together as a unit. This unit is seriously so good to each other," said Spc. Jesse Schroemges, a combat medical specialist with the 144th ASMC.
African Lion is U.S. Africa Command's largest, premier, joint, annual exercise hosted by Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal. More than 7,000 participants from nine nations and NATO trained together with a focus on enhancing readiness for U.S. and partner nation forces.
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