Sergeant First Class (Ret)
Valerie (Deahn) Kinghorn
Service Branch: Nebraska Army National Guard
Combat Action: Operations Desert Shield & Desert Storm
Home Town: Lincoln
Military Specialty: Air Ambulance Combat Signaler
Unit: 24th Medical Air Ambulance Company in Support of the XVIII Airborne Corps
Decorations, Citations, and Awards: - National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Aircraft Crewman Badge, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Nebraska National Guard Desert Shield/Storm Service Ribbon, Liberation of Kuwait (Saudi Arabia), Army Commendation Medal, Numerous Training, Service, & Achievement Commendations
When peril threatens, the natural human instinct is to flee. Thankfully, there are people like SFC [ret] Valerie Kinghorn whose response is to rush toward danger, putting the protection and safety of others ahead of her own. A 1984 graduate of Lincoln Southeast High School, a 1987 Criminal Justice graduate of Kearney State College (University of Nebraska – Kearney), and with her family’s heritage of military service, Valerie enlisted in the Nebraska Army National Guard at the age of 17, serving a 20-year career as a Combat Signaler and Medic.
In November of 1990, her 24th Medical Air Ambulance Unit was activated; attached to the 56th Medical Battalion, 44th Medical Brigade out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina; and deployed to Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield. At 03:00 on 17 January 1991, Operation Desert Shield transitioned to Operation Desert Storm. Awakened by the switchboard alarm, Sgt. Kinghorn received the message that hostilities had commenced, and 24th Med was ordered to don full chemical garb. Most of the next week was spent getting into and out of chemical suits and masks, wearing them for long periods.
Assigned to support the XVIII Airborne Corps, consisting of the 101st Airborne, 82nd Airborne, 24th Infantry, French 6th Light Armored Divisions, and the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment; 24th Med moved up Tapline Road to Log Base Charlie, near the Iraq border. Their missions, medical evacuation of coalition or enemy wounded and injured civilians, flew UH-1 “Huey” helicopters. Valerie, assigned to night-shift Flight Operations, dispatched “Dust Off” MedEvacs, alerted 1st up crews, conducted weather briefings, recorded flight plans, and provided radio flight following.
Desert combat was a unique environment: daytime temperatures over 110°; below freezing at night. Cobra and Apache choppers, with their incessant “Whop-Whop-Whop,” flew continuously overhead, protecting the camp. From a distance at night, the troops watched the laser light show of the air assaults through night vision goggles. 24th Med had a number of Vietnam Dust-Off pilots, experienced in air extraction of wounded from hostile LZs, who shared their knowledge with the team. One of them organized the Search-and-Rescue of a downed Blackhawk crew. Valerie volunteered for the mission. The 100-hour ground offensive began on 24 February.
Desert Shield/Storm was an historic change in the U.S. military. Over 40,000 American women deployed in key combat-support positions, sharing with their male counterparts all except front-line duties. Fifteen women died and two were taken as prisoners of war. Eleven women served in 24th Med in various capacities.
Now retired from the military, former Sergeant First Class Valerie Kinghorn continues her career of protective service as a Police Sergeant in Lincoln, where she lives with her husband and three children. She will graduate in May of 2013 with Master’s Degree in Management from Doane College.
Wow! Wife, Mother, Police Sergeant, Graduate Student, Career Soldier, and Combat Veteran...we're lucky Valerie Kinghorn is on our side.