Army Helicopter Saves Infant in 1981, Who Were the Pilots?

 In Military

South Carolina: An article in Stripes published on June 21 spoke of the night of December 3, 1981 when an Army helicopter saved the life of a newborn baby, Teresa Dawley. Though she is all grown up now, she would like to find out who the two pilots of that helicopter were so she can thank them.

Teresa and her father talked about that day many times over the years. But this year on Father’s Day, they wondered if they could find them. “It never really occurred to me to find them. We started saying it would be really cool to find where those guys are.” Teresa Dawley

Springs Memorial Hospital, Lancaster , SC, 12-3-1981

It was a joyous moment when Teresa was born. But doctors noticed she wasn’t breathing: she had aspirated amniotic fluid and needed immediate airlifting to Richland Memorial Hospital in Columbia. But all the medical helicopters were busy that night.

The doctor told the nurse, “Find me a helicopter and find me one NOW.”

As Freddie Dawley, Teresa’s father, prayed for God to send help for his child, a nurse came in to tell them that a helicopter was about to touch down at the helipad by the hospital.

“This little white, blond-headed girl with a flowing gown and little feathered wings on her back; yeah, that may be an angel. But that ain’t the angel I saw that night. She is about 12 or 15 feet tall. She’s got wings of about, I’d say, maybe 60-foot span. She’s got a very bulbous nose, and it’s green. Matter of fact, she’s green all over. And she’s got ‘U.S. Army’ wrote on both sides of her.” Freddie Dawley, 62

According to the Stripes article,

He recalled medical staff loading the gurney and incubator into a green military helicopter that had landed on the helipad outside the Lancaster hospital. As he stood at the door to the chopper, one of the pilots asked who he was, and he replied that he was the baby’s father and he wanted to go with her.

“And all in one breath, he looked at me and said, ‘Sir, I cannot give you permission to get on this aircraft,’” Dawley said. The pilot then pointed to a seat and added, “Sit right there and put the seat belt on.”

After the helicopter rose into the air and completed a 360-degree turn, “we proceed to fly off into the night,” Dawley said.

During the trip to Columbia, one of the medical staffers grabbed the pilot’s shoulder.

“They have some words back and forth for a minute,” Dawley said. “Then this person sits back down, and the engine of that helicopter revved up, and we go.” The helicopter noticeably sped up.

The Dawleys would like to find those two heroes. Officials stated the Army helicopter could have been from the 498th Medical Company-Air Ambulance, which was in Columbia at the time. The unit has since been deactivated.

Freddie Dawley didn’t want to get the pilots in trouble for their actions. But now, this many years later, they would like to find them. They’ve reached out on Facebook and local news outlets, as well as the article in Stripes. If you know who these two pilots were, please contact TeresaDawley@gmail.com.

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