57th Med Det History

The 57th Medical Company (Air Ambulance) was originally constituted as the 57th Malaria Control Unit on 01 September 1943 and activated at the Army Service Forces Training Center, New Orleans, LA, on 19 September 1943.

The Unit was reorganized and redesignated as the 57th Malaria Control Detachment on 08 April 1945 and inactivated on 30 September 1945 inactivated 30 September 1945 in Brazil.

The unit was reactivated and allotted to the Regular Army on 23 March 1953 and designated the 57th Medical Detachment (RA) and assigned to Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, TX. The unit was the first Aeromedical Evacuation unit deployed to the Republic of Vietnam, arriving in country on 26 April 1962 and remaining until deactivation at TAN SON Nhut Air Base, on 14 March 1973. During the 57th Medical Detachment’s service in Vietnam, the unit’s dedicated unhesitating service to the fighting forces, combined with an excellent medical support system, contributed to the lowest mortality rate for the United States Armed Forces of any conflict in military history. The period of service in Vietnam also provided the 57th Medical Detachment (RA) with it’s motto, “THE ORIGINAL DUSTOFF”, when all aeromedical evacuations became known by the 57th Medical Detachment’s original radio callsign “DUSTOFF”. When the 57th Medical Detachment (RA) was sent to Vietnam, it became the first unit to use the UH-1 helicopter for MEDEVAC in actual combat operations, evacuating more than 100,000 patients within the combat zone. On 29 March 1973, the Detachment returned to the United States and was assigned to Fort Bragg.

Legislation passed by Congress on 01 July 1974 allowed the 57th Medical Detachment (RA) to become one of the first participants on the Military Assistance to Safety and Traffic program commonly known as the MAST Program. On 12 October 1980, the unit reached a milestone in medical evacuation support when it completed its one-thousandth MAST mission. As of 01 March 1985, the unit had flown more than one-thousand five-hundred MAST missions. In the MAST program, the 57th Medical Detachment (RA) provided on-call Air Ambulance service to civilian communities of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.

The unit was designated the 57th Medical Detachment (RG) on 16 April 1982 and received its first UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter on 15 June 1982. The Detachment again distinguished itself by being the first Air Ambulance Detachment in the United States Army to receive the Black Hawk helicopter. On 12 February 1983 and 27 February 1985, this unit was selected as runner-up in the FORSCOM Commanding General’s award for maintenance Excellence. In June 1983, the unit successfully completed an overseas deployment to participate in the Joint Task Force Bright Star which tested the ability of United States Forces to deploy and operate in the Middle East. The 57th Medical Detachment was again called into combat on 26 October 1983 in support of Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada. The Detachment continued to provide medical evacuation support for the Caribbean Peace Keeping Force until 30 October 1984. The American Legion bestowed its highest award on the unit, the Medal of Valor, for it’s actions in Grenada. In January 1988, October 1988, February 1990, and January 1993 the 57th supported deployments of helicopters and aircrews to Honduras.

On 23 December 1989, the 57th Medical Detachment was called into combat a third time in support of Operation Just Cause in Panama. Three aircrews deployed on short notice and combined resources with the 214th Medical Detachment (RG) already stationed in Panama. The 57th Medical Detachment (RG) deployed to Saudi Arabia on 09 September 1990 to support Operations Desert Shield/Storm. In August 1991, the 57th Medical Detachment (RG) was called upon to support Operation Green Stalk in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Two aircrews were rapidly deployed to Homestead, Florida in August 1992 to provide relief support for Hurricane Andrew. The unit began receiving property from the 36th Medical Detachment (RG) in June 1992 in preparation for the unit reorganization. On 16 September 1992, the 57th Medical Detachment (RG) was reorganized and redesignated the 57th Medical Company (Air Ambulance). Again, the 57th Medical Company was the first unit designated as an Air Ambulance Company (15 Ship) in the United States.

The 57th Medical Company has been awarded the Presidential Unit Citation, six meritorious Unit Commendations, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Device.

The mission of the 57th Medical Company (AA) is to provide rapid aeromedical evacuation support for the soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division and the XVIII Airborne Corps.

The unit provides aeromedical evacuation support and services, clear the battlefield of wounded soldiers, move medical equipment, supplies, blood, and medical personnel.

Note: The entire organization of medevac helicopters has been changed in recent years. There are apparently no longer helicopter ambulance companies or detachments, but the medevac mission is included organically with the combat units. (updated 2021)

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