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Operations => Aviation & Flying Activities => Topic started by: OldGuy on April 08, 2018, 08:18:20 PM

Title: Get to know: 2LT Morgan Hill, Idaho Army National Guard's first aeromedical evac
Post by: OldGuy on April 08, 2018, 08:18:20 PM

Growing up, Idaho Army National Guard Soldier 2nd Lt. Morgan Hill knew he’d join the military, he just didn’t know when.

At the age of eight years old, he arrived in Florida after immigrating to the United States with his family from Curacao, a Caribbean island belonging to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In high school, he was a member of the high school’s Junior ROTC program and the Civil Air Patrol.

“Being an immigrant in the U.S. and having all of this opportunity, I thought it would be a good way to give back and to serve,” Hill said.

Hill moved to Idaho in 2008 and joined the Idaho Army National Guard in 2013, at the age of 27. Before he joined the Guard, he worked on political campaigns, toured the country with a heavy metal band and worked as a civilian commercial pilot for a sky diving company.

Since joining the Guard, he’s been just as busy. He is qualified in two officer branches and later this year will lead the Idaho Army National Guard’s newest unit, Detachment. 2, C Company, 1-168th General Support Aviation Battalion, also known as “Guardian Medevac,” on its first deployment.

Civic Engagement
Hill moved to South Florida from Curacao in 1994 with his mother and two sisters. His mother had lived briefly in the U.S. Virgin Islands as a teenager and wanted to move to the U.S. mainland later in life to be closer to some of her family. The family became U.S. citizens in 2000.

His mother and sisters still live in Florida and Hill might still live there too, had he not randomly met his wife, Coral, on Myspace in 2005. The pair moved to Boise to be closer to Coral’s family in 2008 and married in 2011.

Prior to joining the Idaho Army National Guard, Hill found another way to contribute to his community through public service.

“I’m a big believer in civic engagement,” Hill said. “Part of living in a free society is to maintain that through civic engagement.”

He started doing volunteer work for political campaigns, became a staffer, a campaign manager and eventually worked his way up to chief of staff for the Idaho House of Representatives’ minority leader.

Hill also earned his fixed-wing commercial pilot license before joining the Idaho Army National Guard. He said earning his commercial license and going to college delayed him from entering the Guard sooner. However, Hill’s career has been anything but slow since then.

Starting from scratch
Hill enlisted into the Idaho Army National Guard as a 15R Apache helicopter mechanic; attended basic training and advanced individual training; then became an officer candidate and attended Officer Candidate School before commissioning as a 15B aviation officer and attending flight school. While attending flight school at Fort Rucker, Alabama, Hill was selected to command Detachment 2, C Company, 1-168th GSAB.

Detachment 2, an air-ambulance detachment, first stood up in March of 2017. As an air ambulance unit, its UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters are equipped with defibrillators, medical fluids, oxygen tanks, medications and other advanced combat life-saving tools in addition to an external hoist system and forward-looking infrared cameras. Flight paramedics are part of the flight crew, which includes pilots and crew chiefs, on every mission.

Because of the unit’s specialized medical mission, Hill was also required to complete branch training as a medical service corps officer. He now serves as the state’s first 67J aeromedical evacuations officer.

The unit was selected to deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel this summer. The deployment will be the Idaho Army National Guard state aviation group’s eighth deployment in the last decade and will last nearly a year.

“I love my job,” Hill said. “Building the organization with my team from scratch to a fully functioning organization has been really exciting.”

Hill said the unit’s biggest challenges have been adopting to a new mission in the middle of the Army’s Aviation Restructure Initiative and learning what it takes to make medical evacuations successful in under one year. He sees the mission as having three pillars: aviator, crew chief and flight paramedic readiness built upon a solid foundation of operations and communication capabilities.

“If those five components are functioning the way they should be, then you will have a successful medevac unit,” he said.

The unit currently has approximately 35 Soldiers. Prior to deploying, aviators and crew chiefs had to be trained on hoist operations and other critical medevac procedures. Combat medics from other units had to be selected and trained as flight paramedics.

“Our Soldiers are giving 110 percent every day,” Hill said. “That’s what’s making this mission work and come together so fast. They are some of the most motivated Soldiers I’ve ever worked with.”

Hill said that his previous experience managing in high-level staff positions outside of the Army has assisted him in overseeing the unit’s initial development and pre-deployment training.

Maintaining sanity
Hill earned his bachelor’s degree in aviation science from Utah Valley University and is currently pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in applied physics with an astrophysics emphasis from Boise State University. He plans to get a master’s degree in the same field. His long-term goal is to work for NASA or SpaceX after he completes his career in the Idaho Army National Guard.

While he’ll have to put his education on hold during the deployment, he has no plans to stop playing music for the year.

Hill has played musical instruments since middle school. When he got tired of being in his high school’s marching band, Hill traded his trumpet and tuba for a bass guitar and started a heavy metal band with a friend.

That band toured the country together for five years before members went their own ways. Hill now plays in a different heavy metal band as well as in a second band that plays alternative music.

He plans on recording music on his down time during the deployment.

“Music helps me maintain my sanity,” he said.