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
Citations and Awards: - National Defense Service Medal
- Army Service Ribbon
- Aircraft Crewman Badge
- Southwest Asia Service Medal
- Nebraska Natjional 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.