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Feature | Jan. 20, 2023

A ‘not-so-routine’ operation

By Robert Whetstone

Aug. 26, 2021 was a terrible day of bloodshed and destruction near Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, when a suicide bomber killed an estimated 170 Afghans and 13 U.S. service members.

That same day, shortly after the bombing, U.S. Air Force Maj. (Dr.) Dominick Vitale, Brooke Army Medical Center critical care/trauma surgeon, and the remaining members of the Critical Care Air Transport Team (CCATT) were on the first aircraft to land and evacuate the severely injured to Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Vitale and the entire crew, dubbed ‘MOOSE 98,’ received the Distinguished Flying Cross with “C” device for their actions during a ‘not-so-routine’ operation.

Vitale attended Coastal Carolina University as an undergraduate student, then went to the University of South Carolina for medical school. He joined the military after his first year in medical school as part of the Health Professions Scholarship Program. He then went to Westchester Medical Center in New York for his general surgical residency and on to BAMC for his trauma and critical care fellowship.

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