BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan — It isn’t every day you come across someone who has been a Soldier, Sailor and Airman, but then again, Tech. Sgt. Russell McLamb isn’t your everyday service member.
McLamb’s uniqueness isn’t just that he has served in three different services; but he has also served in all three of the service’s medical corps.
“Being a part of the military, it’s in my blood. My dad was a heavy equipment operator in the Marine Corps,” said McLamb, who is assigned to the 156th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron based at Charlotte Air National Guard Base, North Carolina. “I decided to join the Army National Guard and have served in the military for 24 years now. I’ve been able to see and be a part of the medical community in the Army, Navy and now the Air Force.”
“I did five and half years in the Army as a combat medic,” McLamb said. “I finished up and decided try to do something different. At that point I checked into the Navy. After I scoped it out, I did a direct transfer — no boot camp because it was medical to medical – and became a hospital corpsman in the Navy Reserves.”
McLamb was stationed at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Virginia, for three years before transferring to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to work in the operating room at the hospital there. After completing his tour there, McLamb said he decided it was time to try something different yet again.
“My time was up and thought I would try to do something different. I thought I was going to go back to the Army and fly medevac, but I checked out the Air Force and saw they had aeromedical evacuation,” McLamb said. “I got an (aeromedical evacuation) job with the Air National Guard and went through BMT (basic military training), technical school, then to SERE (survival, evasion, resistance and escape), and then to flight school. I’ve been in almost 11 years with the Air Force as an AE technician.”
McLamb said he is proud of his service and working with the great people he has met along the way, but he is extremely thankful for the support of his family and civilian employer.
“I love my family – my wife Robyn, my son Turner and my daughter Ashleigh – they put up with a lot to allow me to do this. I thank them for their support; they love the flag and country as much as I do … they serve too,” McLamb said. “I’ve worked on medical equipment for my civilian company for over 15 years now, and my employer has been a great supporter of me performing my military duty. I couldn’t be happier.”
As a member of the 455th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, McLamb said it’s great to see the total force team come together to perform their vital mission.
“At Bagram, we have a good squadron with good people. It’s neat to see active duty, Reserve and Guard all come together to get the mission done. We’re all different pieces of a puzzle that fit together,” McLamb said.
McLamb said it’s important to have aeromedical evacuation in a combat zone to be able to move patients quickly from the battlefield and get them back home to get the treatment they need and back to their loved ones.
“We’re the continuation of care to make sure that happens. It’s about getting things done right to deliver the proper patient care,” McLamb said.
One of the people glad to have McLamb on his team here and at home station is Maj. Jonathan Freeman, a medical crew director and flight nurse.
“He’s very professional and knowledgeable; one of the best AE techs here,” Freeman said. “I don’t know how he keeps all the knowledge he has straight, but he does. When I know he is assigned to my team, I know he will make my job easier … I know the patients will be taken care of and that the mission will be a success.”
Freeman said McLamb is the consummate professional.
“When it’s time for Guard duty, he is one of the first to arrive and one of the last to leave,” Freeman said. “He is hardworking, knowledgeable and genuine. With his knowledge and background, he knows how to take care of people, and if he sees someone who needs help he brings it.”
McLamb said that although military service can take a toll on a body and spirit, he has enjoyed and is proud of his time in uniform.
“It’s been good to me and as I look back I’m proud of my service. You take a beating over the years, but I would never give it up. No doubt, the thing I’ve enjoyed the most over time is serving my country,” McLamb said. “Although in 2017, I might have to look into joining the Coast Guard so I can round out my retirement shadow box.”