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January 26, 2010

Angel flights from the USNS Comfort in Haiti

usns comfort helicopter

Today in The Baltimore Sun, I wrote about "angel flights," used for those who have died onboard the USNS Comfort. As aircraft land and depart throughout the day, the call eventually goes out for an "angel flight," a term familiar to anyone who has deployed to a war zone. For a brief moment the activity stops, a chaplain appears on deck, and crew members carry out the stretchers loaded with black bags. They are loaded onto the helicopter for a last flight to the island.

"We're mindful of the fact that these are extraordinary circumstances and many of these people have large families and loved ones who aren't with them right now. But we're a family and we're with them," said Cmdr. Dave Oravec, a chaplain at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and one of three serving aboard the Comfort.

Posted by Robert Little at 11:14 AM |
About the reporters
Reporter Robert Little, a native Baltimorean, has worked at The Baltimore Sun for 11 years. A former national correspondent, he has reported on military medical issues, and was the recipient of a George Polk Award for a series of articles about an experimental drug used on U.S. service members in Iraq. He also reported from Louisiana in 2005 on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Photographer Kim Hairston, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, has worked at The Baltimore Sun for 21 years. She studied photojournalism at Ohio University as a master degree candidate. While on assignment for The Sun, she has covered a number of assignments including Catholic Relief Service outreach in Ecuador; AIDS and squalor in Soweto, South Africa and hurricane relief in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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