Task Force Liberty's Reservist Maldonado's Commentary

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Michael Hong
  • 514 AMW

The following is a commentary by Reserve Citizen Airman Tech. Sgt. Anita Maldonado, aerospace medicine technician with the 514th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, 514th Air Mobility Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

I arrived on August 27th and wasn’t sure what to expect in this deployment–having previously deployed to the Middle East a few times, I had some experience and expectations.

I soon realized this deployment was going to be different. This was a mission to make accommodations and services available to the Afghans—and their families—who have supported us during our operations.

My first first few days were definitely an insight as to what was needed to assist our Afghani guests. During that time, an infant almost lost his life.

We were processing guests and a lady was holding a crying baby covered from head to toe in blankets. As some time passed, I thought I heard the baby’s cries get softer.

When I caught a glance of her removing the blanket from the baby's face, I saw the baby's skin color and knew something was wrong. In my field, we would suspect that the patient was cyanotic: having blue or purplish skin due to deficient oxygenation of blood.

I moved closer and held out my hands in front of the baby asking non-verbally to see if I could hold the baby. She handed me the baby.

As I was holding him, I noticed that the baby had difficulty breathing.

“This baby is having respiratory distress!” I yelled.

The baby was then immediately treated with medical interventions. Not long afterwards, he was transported in an ambulance to a hospital with neonatal care functionality.

Looking back, even though we didn’t have everything in the beginning—as everything was a work in progress—I truly believe that what we did made a difference for the Afghani guests.

To see how the medical facility transitioned from a small gym area filled with workout equipment to a full-functioning clinic speaks volumes to what the military can do.

My leadership—Col. Nicole Hurley, 514th Aerospace Medicine Squadron commander, who was appointed the medical commander for the task force—and everyone from the beginning definitely went above and beyond to bring this mission to where it is today.

After hearing the stories and seeing the pictures and videos shown to me by the guests, I truly believe that these people were saved from danger and, in some cases, certain death.

It feels good when you see their smiles and when the children just want to say, “Hello!” with a fist-bump as you walk by.

I believe that the United States is truly a land of opportunity and that belief was reaffirmed when I was told by some Afghani guests that they now feel at peace. Those words are something I will never forget.