Lonestar Dustoff crews meet with medical personnel from William Beaumont Army Medical Center to discuss MEDEVAC operations at the new hospital’s helipad. | Photo by Spc. Isaiah Laster
Much has been written about the state of Texas.
The subject matter of outstanding works from John Steinbeck, to quotes from Willie Nelson and Sam Houston; they all have one thing in common: Texans.
Throughout the annals of history, this unique group of Americans has done and continues to do great things for their state and country.
One such Texan happens to work in the Iron Eagle Brigade and flies hospital helicopters. Her name is Maj. Suzannah Elizabeth Morrison.
The Plano, Texas native is the Charlie Company commander of the 2-501st General Aviation Support Battalion’s Medevac unit.
With a fleet of 15 hospital helicopters outfitted with medical equipment and a team of 109 soldiers, Morrison’s day-to-day job consists of everything from aviation maintenance, meetings, flight hours, and ensuring her company is always ready to answer when the phone rings.
Last week, Morrison’s company’s soldiers executed the first round of Medevac training at the Army’s most recent hospital.
The William Beaumont Army Medical Center has moved to a new location on the Fort Bliss Army reservation, a multi-pronged effort spanning years that will finally be operational on March 28th.
“Medevac is all about saving lives,” the Plano native says. “When we get the call, someone’s life can be hanging in the balance.”
Soldiers from Charlie Company, 2-501st GSAB, 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade have been working hard at executing their mission, day and night, always with a stopwatch in-hand.
“The nature of our mission means little prior planning, and everything we do has to be done flawlessly,” Morrison tells us. “From the pilots in the aircraft to flight medics and mechanics, everyone has a critical piece of the pie, and it’s got to be done quickly.”
Morrison knows a thing or two about being a team player, and it goes back to her humble beginnings in Plano.
“I did JROTC at Plano West Senior High School and began relationships with people that have gotten me to where I am today,” the Planoite said. “Maj. Napoli and 1st Sgt. Ford mentored me then, and still do today.”
When Morrison went off to college at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, she knew Army ROTC was what she wanted to do.
“My time in JROTC in high school affirmed that I wanted to fly helicopters and serve in the Army,” she said. “Maj. Napoli was an Apache pilot, and the mentorship I received in high school always kept me focused on what I knew I could become.”
Morrison’s relationship with both individuals lasted throughout college, and she still considers them some of her closest friends.
“When it came time to commission and start my career in the Army, Maj. Napoli flew to Daytona Beach and commissioned me,” the Army pilot proudly said with a smile. “I will always remember his sacrifices and mentorship. I love telling others about how when we care about our people. It really can leave a lasting imprint on their life.”
Napoli and Ford’s influence on Morrison transcends military service. It’s shaped how she leads her formation.
“Being a Medevac company commander is one of the highest honors of my life,” she said. “Leading my unit and taking the time to get to know them, where they’re from, understand their stories, and care for them is what I love most about my job.”
Morrison’s ethos and passion for her people are nested with the Army’s “People First” campaign.
“People are at the heart of everything,” she said. “It’s easy to get focused on the mission – especially as a Medevac unit – but I never forget the person behind the uniform. When we take care of them, we are taking care of ourselves.”
Much like those that came before her defining the domineering spirit that motivates Texans, Morrison continues to focus on the people with whom she serves alongside.
“When your number-one priority is the person, the mission will always succeed,” she said.
Steinbeck once wrote that “Texas is a state of mind,” and for Maj. Suzannah Morrison, that mindset rests with the people that mentored her then and with those she leads now.
Author: Maj. Clark H. Tucker| 1st Armored Division Combat Aviation Brigade