San Antonio, Texas
“Some impressions I want to remember. Some I do not. But I have got them all, burned somewhere deep in my mind. And right there among them is that haunting whisper,” writes Stanley Marcieski of San Antonio, who adds his call sign – Dustoff 97 – to his signature.
Dustoff was the call sign used by the Army’s dedicated helicopter medical evacuation pilots, who flew unarmed Huey helicopters painted with a red cross in accordance with Geneva Convention rules. The call sign was adopted by the original MEDEVAC unit in Vietnam in 1965, and was used thereafter by every Army Air Ambulance unit. A Dustoff crew consisted of four soldiers: an aircraft commander, a pilot, an onboard medic, and a crew chief who was responsible for the aircraft’s maintenance.
Over the course of the Vietnam War, helicopter medical evacuation pilots like Marcieski carried 900,000 wounded and sick soldiers and civilians to hospitals, saving countless lives by providing onboard care during the rapid transport from the point of injury to the hospital. Because of Dustoff’s commitment to fly day and night, in all kinds of weather, and into the hottest Landing Zones to retrieve the wounded, injured troops in Vietnam had a significantly higher chance of survival – greater than 90% – than at any time in history. It was extremely dangerous work, especially when Dustoff hovered in the jungle to hoist the wounded to safety.