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From the Frontlines: Tech. Sgt. Gloria Rapkin
LAGHAM PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Tech. Sgt. Gloria Rapkin Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team aerospace medical technician, pulls security while on a convoy mission during her recent year-long deployment. Sergeant Rapkin was deployed from the 509th Medical Group at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo.
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From the Frontlines: Tech. Sgt. Gloria Rapkin

Posted 5/21/2010   Updated 5/28/2010 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Monste Ramirez
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

5/21/2010 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo., -- In a world surrounded by chaos, death and injuries, few can say they have saved a life, much less multiple lives. A life-saver is considered by many a hero, or in a more humble term, a medic.

Tech. Sgt. Gloria Rapkin, an aerospace medical service technician who was deployed as part of a Provincial Reconstruction Team to Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam, Laghman Province, Afghanistan, July 2009 through March 2010, is one of these heroes.

While deployed, Sergeant Rapkin said her mission included going out on convoys and providing medical care during the mission "outside the wire." This medical care included anything from dehydration to blast injuries from an improvised explosive device.

Unlike at Whiteman, Sergeant Rapkin said she did not have a doctor to consult on traumas, but that gave her an opportunity to apply skill sets that she'd been learning for the past nine years.

"I worked autonomously for the medical needs of my patients," Sergeant Rapkin said. "During sick call, I involved my provider when I thought there was something I couldn't handle."
Sergeant Rapkin executed more than 100 combat convoys in RC-East's most IED-intense area. She was also the first medic on scene for a handful of IED strikes on PRT convoys, one which killed a Soldier and his working dog, according to Capt. Matt Miller, Laghman PRT operations officer.

"On more than one occasion, it was the quick medical aid rendered by Sergeant Rapkin that saved life, limb or eyesight for multiple Soldiers and Airmen," said Captain Miller.

Sergeant Rapkin said she also worked in the Battalion Aid Station seeing individuals for sick call and on prevention practices, including starting the first tobacco cessation program.

In addition to her day-to-day duties, as a female, Sergeant Rapkin was allowed to interact with local-national females in a way her male counterparts weren't, said Captain Miller. During her down times she worked with the Kansas Agribusiness Development Team and Female Engagement Team.

"We helped widowed women or women with disabled spouses via work programs designed for them because they were only source of income," said Sergeant Rapkin. "Additionally, I taught these women basic self -aid and various gynecologic health topics."

Apart from her life-saving duties, Sergeant Rapkin also did her part to combat terrorism.

"I never thought I would be searching Afghan houses, running from bullets, and doing ... well, Army things," Sergeant Rapkin said. "I had some growing pains in the beginning because of the joint-force environment, but began to understand how other services talk and work differently than the Air Force.

"After a few months I started saying things like 'huah' and 'roger' and using my weapon in a meaningful manner as opposed to a war accessory," she added.

While Sergeant Rapkin helped the "good guys" and fought the "bad guys," one young man stood proud of his hero, lending his mom to others so they could be saved.

"The most difficult part of my deployment was the year gone by in the life of my toddler son," said Sergeant Rapkin.

Recognizing her sacrifice and hard work, the Army awarded her the Bronze Star and Army Combat Medical Badge.

"The impact Sergeant Rapkin had on Lagham Province was huge, and will be recognized for years to come," said Captain Miller. "In my humble opinion, Sergeant Rapkin is a hero and should be recognized as such."

5/30/2011 2:14:45 PM ET
I was there that day when she treated wounded on the Improvised Explosive Device. I was one of the casualties the sustain minor injuries compared to the rest. If it wasn't for her quick reaction and thinking on her toes with an aplethera of knowledge. My fellow brother Sgt Bailey would not be walking to day. It's because of her he is. I am so proud to have her serve by my side during that deployment. A true hero in my eyes and an angel sent to us for some of the worst days we all have ever been through. God bless you Gloria..
Sgt Miller James, Khandahar Afghanistan
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