The Dustoff Crew

So Others May Live: Dustoff - Medical Evacuation in the Vietnam War

A Dustoff crew consisted of four people: two pilots, a medic and a crew chief. Usually, one pilot would fly the helicopter while the other acted as the aircraft commander. The commander would navigate, monitor all radio transmissions, talk to the unit requesting the medevac to discuss the landing zone conditions and approach; he would decide whether or not to abort the mission and would take over flying if the pilot were injured.

The medic kept the helicopter stocked with the medical supplies necessary to care for the patients. They loaded patients onto the helicopter and administered any necessary medical treatment on the way to the hospital. The crew chief kept the helicopter in working condition performing maintenance tasks and stocking necessary repair items on board in case of emergency. He also helped the medic load and treat patients. Often times the medic and crew chief would stay with a particular helicopter while the pilots were inter changeable between helicopters.

We had some crews where the medic was just as good a mechanic as a mechanic was, and the mechanic was just as good a medic as the medic was. They were essentially interchangeable and they would help one another with their relative jobs.
- Robert Eaton, Pilot for the 57th Medical Detachment [Oral History #OH0201], Transcript page 28, lines 8-10. (listen part 1; listen part 2; listen part 3; read; more information)

Aid For Fallen Foe - A US medic lifts a wounded Viet Cong prisoner in his arms to place him aboard a rescue helicopter. The prisoner has been hit by mortar fire during a guerilla action against US troops near the village of Plei Me in South Vietnam. He was flown to a nearby hospital for treatment.
(Douglas Pike Photograph Collection [va000500])
Crew Chief preparing aircraft for the next flight. They worked day and night to keep us in the air.
(Roy Riddle Collection [VA021933])