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Music for those who Save Lives

  • Published
  • By Capt. Joseph Hansen
  • Air Forces Central Command Band
The Air Forces Central Command Band, Hypersonic, performed two concerts for medical personnel at Bagram Air Base April 12, 2014. The shows, part of the band's two-week tour of Afghanistan, exemplified the band's appreciation for those saving lives in the region.

Hypersonic's recent trip to forward operating bases totaled 19 performances at five locations in 17 days, supporting deployed service members and coalition forces.

At one concert the Airmen of Hypersonic entertained service members of the Joint Combat Casualty Research Team with favorites by Journey, Bruno Mars and more. The Joint Combat Casualty Research Team and Joint Trauma Theater Systems review ongoing care and perform research studies to yield process improvement and new medical interventions to improve real-time combat care in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. The teams finish their mission in June, having completed 27 active research protocols and 255 medical research studies in their six month deployment.

This crucial mission is led by Air Force Col. Randall McCafferty, deployed from San Antonio Military Medical Center, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas where he serves as chief of neurosurgery and a consultant to the Air Force Surgeon General.

I first met Dr. McCafferty in 2012 when he performed life-saving surgery on my wife, Charlotte, removing a tumor from the middle of her spinal cord. It was an extremely complex procedure. In fact, medical professionals often say spinal surgeries are more difficult than brain surgeries since the spine comprises the "high-priced real estate" affecting movement throughout the entire body.

When I first learned I would be deployed at the same time as Dr. McCafferty, I knew I wanted to try to bring the band to him and his team. It would be one small gesture to say "thank you" for his selfless service in helping others his entire medical career. I will be forever grateful for his expertise in taking care of my wife, and am in awe of the accomplishments of his Bagram team, improving the combat care of fellow service members.

Later in the day, the AFCENT Band put on a concert for the 455 Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. Dancing to Bob Marley's, "Could You be Loved," pilots, nurses, technicians and others relaxed and enjoyed the "Cha Cha Slide" out on the flightline.

"I think it was the most enthusiastic participation we've had since our arrival in the [area of responsibility]," said Tech. Sgt. Justin Allen, AFCENT Band vocalist, deployed from Yokota AB, Japan. "I don't believe anything we play will top that."
"I really enjoyed the songs from Queen," said Air Force Second Lieutenant Erica Hanshew, 455 AES flight nurse. "It was nice to let loose for a little while."

Hanshew and the rest of the aeromedical evacuation squadron provide in-flight medical care and evacuation for both critical and non-critical patients. Often referred to as a hospital in the sky, their motto is, "Aerovac brings em' back."

"My goal is to provide our hurt service members with a smiling face and as much comfort as I can, and get them to a higher level of care as safely as possible," said Hanshew.

The same week of the performance, aeromedical evacuation Airmen were busy doing what they do best: saving lives, including a news reporter who had been shot while covering the recent presidential election.
Our medical professionals don't often receive the public praise and appreciation they deserve. They are an irreplaceable group of people, and I'm glad the AFCENT Band had the opportunity to remind them how much they are truly valued.