After seven schools and months of training, 15 students from the U.S. Air Force Reserve component Aeromedical Evacuation Formal Training Unit completed the 28-day program and graduated from the school at Pope Field, Aug. 12.

Special guests at the ceremony included Col. Brian Kraemer, commander of the 440th Operations Group and guest speaker Staff Sgt. Beau Embrey of the 21st Special Tactics Squadron.

Embrey talked about his medical evacuation experience after being shot while deployed to Afghanistan.

“The crews that were helping me to safety and to get home were incredible.  They took care of all my needs and by the time I arrived back here, I was able to walk off the plane. Hats off to you guys for what you do, I’m very humbled.”

Lt. Col. Maureen Allen, commander of the AEFTU, closed the ceremony with a few remarks about the Reserve and Guard graduates.

“The students graduating today were such a phenomenal group,” said Allen. “This was a diverse group with all different backgrounds and throughout the whole training, kept positive attitudes. I would just like to thank them all for their hard work and dedication.”

The AEFTU is the final training students complete before caring for patients without instructors present.

“The program is extremely hard work,” said Staff Sgt. Kevin Black, an instructor at AEFTU. “The students, as well as instructors, are working long days and are very dedicated to their mission.”

The training started in the classroom with students learning patient care and everything about the C-130, KC-135 and C-17, which are the three aircraft used in the career field.

“There are ten days of classroom training and tests,” said Black. “Then the students move on to our simulators, which are fabricated from the fuselages of decommissioned aircraft and equipped with special effects to create realistic, ‘in-flight’ situations and emergencies.”

Lt. Col. Bryan Koenig with the 934th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron in Minneapolis, Minn., said that volunteering to be a flight nurse instructor for the AEFTU is very gratifying and rewarding and by the end of the training, the instructors just sit back and watch how much students have grown and learned throughout the last 28 days.

Graduate Senior Airman Charla Colbert with the 908th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., said that her biggest accomplishment was stepping up in leadership roles during the simulations and making sure her crew was taken care of as well as making sure what needed to be done was being accomplished.

“I’m glad it’s done,” she said. “It was a lot of training, hard work, long hours and dedication but it’s very rewarding and I’m excited to go back to my home unit.”