Vance medic provides security

  • Published
  • By Capt. Tony Wickman
  • Public Affairs
What do you do when you are trained as a medical logistics officer, responsible for medical equipment purchasing and repairs and facility maintenance, and you're told of an opportunity to do important work down range in harm's way?
You seize the chance if you are Capt. David Huinker, 71st Medical Group medical logistics flight commander.
"I volunteered to deploy and picked this opportunity," said Captain Huinker, a native of Austin, Minn.
The opportunity in this case is working as a battle captain in the Multi-National Force-Iraq's personal security coordination cell.
"My job entails monitoring intelligence networks, news stations and radios, and coordinating with Army, Navy and Air Force liaison offices, local nationals and contractors to support host national people," Captain Huinker said. "During incidents within our scope of work, I determine the status of those we monitor and ensure they get the support needed. We make sure the Iraqi nationals get to where they are going alive and safe."
For the 2001 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, the work he is doing is making a difference.
"Even though the job I have here seems small and gets little publicity, I can truly say if my office or I do not perform our job correctly it puts people in danger," he said.
Part of Captain Huinker's duty is also working with coalition forces.
"I work for MNF-I, which is the top staff level for military in Iraq. Army Gen. George Casey is the commander general, with British Lt. Gen. Sir Robert Fry as the deputy," said Captain Huinker. "I work with U.S. military forces, and indirectly there are several other organizations and countries here we work with. The building I work in hosts offices for the U.S. military, U.S. State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Department of Justice, and a variety of countries, including British, German, Japanese, El Salvadoran, Italian, French and many others."
So what is the most important thing he has gained so far from his deployment he doesn't get at his home base?
"I've learned a lot of the Army's operating procedures, such as how to request a quick reaction force, close air support, medical evacuation or explosive ordinance disposal support," he said. "The important thing is getting a grid coordinate and then directing a unit to the scene, which can be a challenging task."
It is a deployment he will be able to make the most of, said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Jones, 71st Medical Support Squadron commander.
"There's no doubt in my mind Captain Huinker will capitalize on this experience," Colonel Jones said. "We at the 71st Medical Group are extremely proud of him and eagerly await his safe return."
What he is looking forward to most is his redeployment to spend time with Trista, his wife of five years.
"Call me crazy, but for me being here is a piece of cake ... it's what I signed up to do," he said. "As for my wife, I see it as more of a strain on her, so when I get back I want to do all the things that she wants to do, not what I want to do."