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Young Airman loves the challenge of aeromedical evacuation

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Trevor Saylor

Coming from a family of Air Force veterans, Senior Airman Taylor Sturgell knew early on she was interested in joining the Air Force.

Her mother retired from the Air Force Reserve’s 934th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, Minneapolis-St. Paul Air Reserve Station, Minnesota, and Sturgell was interested in medicine herself. “I could have joined the ASTS. It was familiar,” Sturgell said. “But why not challenge myself and do something outside of my comfort zone.”  

In 2020, Sturgell joined the 934th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. Her experience in basic military training and technical school is intertwined with the COVID-19 pandemic, as was her initial experience at the 934th AES. Sturgell said she is thrilled that the unit can now more freely operate in person.

Sturgell marveled at the interactions within the 934th AES team recently during Winged Serpent, a three-day exercise testing the interoperability of international joint forces. Working with Canadian partners, the 934th AES coordinated patient care, evacuation and transportation. It was a chance for the unit to put what they have learned into practice in an unfamiliar environment.

“It’s amazing to see how we are able to mesh together as a team,” Sturgell said. “These flights really allow us to build a better fact-to-face bond. We are able to create strong relationships that make a real difference when we are doing our job.”

For this exercise, Sturgell was assigned to an instructor. Senior Master Sgt. Zac Johnson, a flight instructor with the 934th AES, was responsible for training Sturgell one-on-one during the exercise. 

“This is her fourth flight since she joined the unit,” Johnson said of Sturgell. “And we expect to see growth flight-over-flight as the Airmen learn and put their knowledge into action. But this weekend, the growth was exponential. Her performance, confidence and presence all improved a lot.”

Sturgell said Johnson was incredibly helpful to her.

“Having an experienced flyer by my side was very beneficial for me,” she said. “It was great to be able to pick his brain and get immediate feedback on what we were doing. He helped me become a better flyer and a better student.”

Outside of her work at the 934th AES, Sturgell is a patient care coordinator in her civilian life. She is planning to attend nursing school with an eye toward becoming a licensed practical nurse. With that, she sees herself continuing to serve with the 934th.

“I love the culture, the people and the morale here. I’m always excited to be here,” Sturgell said. “And that’s a good feeling.”

(Saylor is assigned to the 934th Airlift Wing’s public affairs office.)