April 16th, 2010
08:14 AM ET

Volcanic ash diverts some wounded troops' flights

Medivac flights out of Afghanistan and Iraq are now being re-routed from their usual landing point at Ramstein Air Base in Germany where flight operations are shut down due to the volcano in Iceland, according to several U.S. military officials.

All medivac flights are now being diverted to fly directly to Andrews Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. Medivac flights generally leave Afghanistan and Iraq and stop at Ramstein where patients are transferred to the U.S. military hospital at Landstuhl for follow-up on trauma care and stabilization.

Officials say at least one medivac flight is now scheduled to land at Andrews on Saturday on a direct flight from the warzone. It will have to be refueled in mid-air because of the long distance involved. Officials say medical care for the wounded will not be impacted by the change.

Earlier, the U.S. Air Force said that two bases in England, RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath, will be shut down for at least two days. That means dozens of U.S. Air Force F-15s and other fighter jets and tankers are not flying, and flights to Iraq and Afghanistan flying through that airspace are being diverted to other routes.

soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. intheknow

    Mindy, R&R is an entitlement. Per Department of Defense Instruction 1327.6, soldiers are entitled to leave.

    April 23, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Michelle

    I don't have a loved one in Afghanistan but I can imagine the frustration of not knowing when or how they will be coming home. This has affected everybody all over the world. The ash is there as my car and many others are covered in it right now. Safety is the main concern and I would think that our soldiers are as frustrated and as eager to get home as everybody wants them home. It will take time, but they will be home soon. More to celebrate when they do come home 🙂

    April 20, 2010 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  3. Waiting

    I'm twiddling my thumbs, waiting to hear anything from my husband in Kuwait. He is supposed to be coming home on leave right now, too. I'm due to have a baby this week and was hoping he would be able to be here. Maybe not. Oh, well. That's life in the military!

    April 19, 2010 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Weasel

    as far as taking routes home through different countries... it is up to those countries whether or not we can bring additional troops through their airspace, even if we have bases there. It is still their country, and they have a right to not have more foreign troops in their country than what they agreed to....
    @ "The world is round": Don't you think military planners would have already thought of going the other way? And if you are talking about taking a ship... do you know how long it would take via ship to get back to the US?

    @Pissed Off: Sorry to hear that your son and his squad were injured, and I hope they get well soon... but If you read the article it states that the wounded troops that would usually be flown to Germany are being flown to Andrews directly... so, I don't know who you think is showing "disservice". As far as shuttling to a different country for medical care, we would have to have their permission.

    April 19, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. The world is round

    Do they really have to fly west back to U.S. via Europe?
    They can fly east towards Asia and land at one of many at their military bases to refill and continue via pacific ocean back to U,S. The process is longer, but it works, I've read that if passengers can do that, why can't the military?

    April 19, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. USMCspouse

    I am sure that this stuff is a little above me, since I really have not air space planning experience. But this I do know, Christopher Columbus sailed the Ocean Blue and discovered that the world was not flat it is in fact round, so why the heck are our service members confined to only going home one way?

    April 19, 2010 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Russell

    For why we have not re-pouted military flights through Spain, Ask Spain. They would not even let us fly through their airspace back when we bombed the Terrorist training camps before Desert storm.
    In simple Terms Spain hinders our military every chance it gets. I do not know why.

    April 19, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  8. USMCspouse

    I just don't understand why military flights bringing loved ones home can't be rerouted. I can't believe that our intelligence is so sophisticated that one thing has tied our military's hands and cannot do anything. Someone please get this fixed now!!!/ They found several flights when they were deploying my husband. Also I viewed the Kuwait Airport and noticed that there are at least three flights a day from there directly to the US that have not been canceled and have safely arrived over th epast three days!!

    April 19, 2010 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
  9. Alton

    An idea with many problems. Yes, Rota Naval Station is still running and in the 80s and 90s was going good. Not much of a hospital there (I spent time there so I know). Start running a lot more planes through there for how long? They used to have Torrejon AB and Zaragoza AB (near Madrid) and they are a bigger base with more facilities but we closed them down. Could use Moron AB but there 'ain't nothing there so? Anyways it takes$$$ to start running many more planes through there and for how long? Could use Lajes in the Azores but again lots o planes being stacked up and the facilities for the people. Guess they could split it, half to go to Rota, Lajes and the other half to go East through Turkey on to Japan then the US. Here's an idea cause I got to run the 'Pinatubo' evacuations and it just might work, Use the Aircraft Carriers to move people, I'm just kidding anyway, it's a nightmare onboard.

    April 18, 2010 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
  10. carol

    I have been waiting for mine too. still no news on when they can get out and from what the news is saying it might be weeks longer

    April 18, 2010 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  11. mad mama

    omg my husband just got to kuwait yesterday to start his r&r! he was supp to be home monday, are you telling me he is gonna be delayed weeks??

    April 17, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Julia Brisbane

    Dear Princess,

    I know that we want our soldiers/sailors home quickly and safely. I'can't believe what you wrote. My interpretation is, my husband is due home (healthy) and is being delayed because of weather or whatever. The military has figured out an alternate route for the injured, why can't they fly my husband out via Kuwait. Today,as it has been for the past two decades and more, this is a volunteer army. A large majority of us spouses were very aware as we were dating or already married what "we" were getting into. There is nothing worse to a spouse that chose to be in service or career military to hear a whiney spouse telling him he should get out, especially if he loves him/her. It undermines their morale, creates more stress, and problems in a marriage and makes the soldier/sailor vulnerable by creating a distraction in a war zone. So put your selfish concern's for your wanting your husband home (of course that's where he wants to be too), realize it's out of his control, stop whining and make the best of it. Our troops that are injured need the space on Medivac flights more than a 'healthy' soldier/sailor heading home even if it is his/her time for rotation.

    From a USSF(A)RETIRED'S wife

    April 17, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  13. Liz

    I too have a husband in Kuwait trying to get home on R&R. I really wish they could reroute the planes and have them home soon.

    April 17, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |