HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Ten reservists from the 419th Medical Squadron recently returned from a two-week humanitarian mission to Tata, Morocco, as part of an exercise known as African Lion.
The reservists teamed with medical personnel from the Utah National Guard and military doctors from Morocco and Tunisia for the annual exercise, which aims to improve joint operations and mutual understanding among African partner nations.
Medical personnel saw an average of 800 patients a day. The 419th MDS sent optometry, dental, radiology, cardiology, pediatrics, pharmacy, operating room experts and more to villages surrounding Tata.
“We saw a lot of need,” said Capt. Matthew Plendl, senior health administrator in the MDS. “Upwards of 20 tribes were bused to the field hospital every day for treatment. When we arrived in the morning, there was already a line of hundreds of people outside the tents.”
Plendl said they helped about 7,200 patients in nine days – everything from routine eye exams to extracting tumors. The Airmen also distributed soccer balls and hacky sacks to local children during their limited downtime.
The humanitarian mission served as the MDS personnel’s annual tour – part of a reservist’s requirement to complete two weeks of intensive training each year, along with one weekend a month, to ensure they are ready for deployment.