Montrose ‘Witch Doctors’ guard unit heading to war
Medical company will provide multi-level care for troops for a full year in Afghanistan
MONTROSE — In just a few days, 85 local citizen-soldiers will have their boots planted firmly on the ground in Afghanistan, some 7,000 miles away.
They will be there for a year.
The 928 Area Support Medical Company National Guard unit, also known as the “Witch Doctors,” is a medical team trained to provide multi-level care.
Their mission is to serve as backup to the company-level medics as they treat combat-related injuries suffered at the hands of an enemy who has been fighting in the same “sandbox” for more than 30 years.
“What most people don’t understand is what they’re going over to do is something that most people with their most wildest imagination don’t even understand,” said Sgt. Rick Bresett, a former member of the 928 and current honor guard member.
Unit deployed to Iraq in 2004
The unit consists of a variety of physicians, registered nurses, physician assistants, medics and EMTs. Their duties include emergency treatment, sick calls and ground ambulance evacuations from forward operating positions. Some will be on their second and third deployments.
“(We’re) dealing directly with what’s going on in the field,” Bresett said.
The unit is based out of Denver and Montrose, with members coming from Western Slope communities including Rifle, Grand Junction, Montrose, Delta, Hotchkiss and Austin.
The 928 recently concluded two months of training at Fort Carson, after spending nearly two years waiting for orders to either deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan.
The unit returned from its previous deployment in Iraq in early 2004 after serving as support for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In addition to the medical staff, a large group of cooks, mechanics and radio operators will aid in the unit’s logistics.
The Witch Doctors will depart Fort Carson at 6 a.m. and arrive in Montrose in the afternoon where they’ll parade through town and attend a deployment ceremony.
Bresett urges the public to attend and help celebrate the unit and its mission.
“It gives the public a chance to see, feel and get fired up about this,” Bresett said.
While they’re gone
Danielle Hindson works as a family assistance specialist for the National Guard from her office in Grand Junction.
While the unit is deployed, she’ll work to serve the families left behind.
“I basically take care of the family side during the operations, and if there are any problems that arise we just get them that extra help,” Hindson said.
“It has been proven that our soldiers are better soldiers when their families are taken care of,” Bresett said.
Hindson and Bresett said donations of any size including labor, materials and groceries are needed year-round.
As for the deployed soldiers, “The stuff they always ask for, above all, is coffee, coffee, coffee,” Hindson said. “The stuff that’s over there is like sand.”
To donate or help a family, contact the Grand Junction National Guard Family Program office located at 482 28 Road in Grand Junction or call 720-250-5542.