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Iraq war medic experience helps Williamsport medical technician

February 11, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - As a part-time emergency medical technician for the Williamsport Volunteer Ambulance Service, Will Stuller II had his hands full on a recent snowy morning while working at the scene of a serious accident along Interstate 70.

The training that served Stuller on that call was similar to the skills he employed on a recent four-month stint in Iraq as a flight medic with the U.S. Air National Guard 167th Airlift Wing out of Martinsburg, W.Va.

"About 30 of us who were designated as an aeromedical evacuation squadron flew out of BWI July 10 for Baghdad," Stuller said. "When I enlisted in April 2001, I had no idea I'd be going overseas."

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When Stuller and his companions arrived in Iraq, they spent five days with members of a group from Tennessee they were replacing.

"We were located at a mobile staging facility where we received patients from Army hospitals and aide stations," Stuller said.

Those patients were cared for on the ground and then flown out of the country.

When an emergency would occur, Stuller and the others flew into the area to get the patients and treated them aboard planes as they were flown to Germany.

"I flew to Germany four times and Kuwait once," Stuller said. "In addition, I got to fly with the Army Black Hawk helicopters. It was very exciting."

He and the others got to know each other well during their stint, Previously, they had spent time together only on weekends and at drills.

Stuller, 21, was glad to get home in November. He said the situation in Iraq became more dangerous as time passed.

Even though he was stationed inside a secure base, Stuller said danger was always present.

"I didn't tell my mom much the last few weeks I was there," said Stuller, the son of William and Rebecca Stuller of nearby West Virginia.

A volunteer at Williamsport since he was 16, Stuller said he called about joining, got an application and has been volunteering now for five years. He lives in Hagerstown.

With his experiences in Iraq behind him, Stuller said he sees a bright future, both in his medical career and in service to his country.

He is taking a Firefighter I class, studying for his associate/paramedic degree at Shepherd College and working part time at Home Depot.

Stuller said his experiences have convinced him that he wants to spend his life working as a paramedic.

Before going overseas, Stuller had been in the nursing curriculum at Shepherd but now has refocused his career toward being a paramedic.

"I have been looking around different parts of the country for paramedic opportunities," he said.

His six-year enlistment is up in 2007, but Stuller said he plans to stay in the Air Guard indefinitely.

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