The U.S. Air Force 433rd Medical Group returned home after validating its readiness to deploy by participating in Patriot Medic 23. The training, part of a larger exercise called Global Medic, involved more than 7,100 Reserve, active duty and allied forces as well as coalition partners.

Seventy Reserve Airmen from the 433rd MDG spent 19 days undergoing rigorous and realistic training at Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, and Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. On top of validating the Airmen’s readiness to deploy, the annual exercise served to enhance interoperability between units, medics, individual reservists and the joint force.

Patriot Medic 23 provided “Alamo Wing” reservists opportunities to sharpen their skills beyond what can typically be accomplished during monthly unit training activities.

“What I’m grateful for is that I’d never seen our people in the 433rd Aeromedical Staging Squadron come together before, they’d never had too before” said Maj. Reginald Whittington, 433rd ASTS Bravo Flight commander. “I was very impressed with the junior Airmen, the senior leadership … I would go to war with these people … we have people in the unit that I would trust with my life.”

Participation in Patriot Medic led to learning moments for new Airmen and veterans alike. Airmen from the 433rd Aeromedical Staging Squadron (ASTS) embedded with the 914th ASTS, based out of Niagara Falls ARS, New York, as part of their training at the exercise.

The exercise not only tested the Reserve Airmen’s knowledge of their jobs and their physical capabilities, but also their mental resiliency. Many of the lessons were learned the hard way.

“We failed a lot, which was a good thing because you need to feel that pain and then you come up with better solutions next time,” said Senior Airman Lindsey Neubauer, 433rd ASTS medic.

Patriot Medic also allowed 433rd MDG senior leaders to evaluate and mentor their Airmen, while strengthening the bonds between the members of their teams.

“I’ve been in for 16 years … this is probably one of the most realistic ones,” Master Sgt. Julie Fuleky, 433rd Medical Squadron Bravo flight chief, pointed out. “As we went through it, you started to see the team come together … it was a very valuable exercise because, where we normally only see each other two days a month, we were working closely together for 19 days.”

Col. Michelle Van Sickle, 433rd MDG commander, served as the joint task force surgeon at Fort McCoy during the exercise. She observed after the exercise that many of the newer medics were able to fully understand their mission and the importance of training prior to deployment, while more seasoned medics expanded their knowledge about operating in a contested environment.

“They all came together to accomplish the mission, and all performed at, or above, the standard we expected,” Van Sickle said. “I am proud of them.”