SHERIDAN — All the way from Kuwait and Germany, the Sheridan Health Center received a gift Tuesday that comes with a special honor.
Lt. Col. Robin Duncan presented the SHC with the flag that was flown in its honor during Operation Iraqi Freedom. A Sheridan native, Duncan flew the flag along with two others for the school she works for, Laramie County Community College, on a C-17 during a mission from Germany to Kuwait and back.
Duncan said the health center helped her when she was doing post-graduate work to get her nurse practitioner license.
“Lots of people opened their arms,” Duncan said, “So to honor you, I flew a flag for you on one of my missions.”
Duncan was inspired to join the Wyoming National Guard after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. She was 45 years old when she joined. She’s now been in the Wyoming National Guard for 14 years and is with the 187th Air Medical Evacuation Squadron. She is the chief nurse of the squadron.
Duncan said she brings soldiers home with injuries caused by roadside bombs and gunshots as well as patients on ventilators, post-surgical patients and those requiring a critical care air transport team. She said sometimes it’s not even humans she transports; her first patient was a dog, Rocky, who outranked his handler.
She said usually there are only two nurses and three medical technicians on board, unless the CCAT team is needed, which would include doctors.
While on deployment, Duncan said most of her crew is a mix from other squadrons, leading her to work with people from across the country.
She said they normally have about five to seven crews at a time, and crews are put together based on rank and experience.
While Duncan said she told her husband she’d give only five years, Duncan will deploy again to Ramstein, Germany, at the end of June as the chief nurse of the air medical detachment. It will be her fifth deployment.
“It’s something that’s fairly addictive because you get out there and… you get to nurse the world,” Duncan said. “And to be able to bring our soldiers home, it’s (indescribable).”
Duncan had the flag put in a case for the health center. In the case are two coins, the top coin is for the 10th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Flight and the bottom is a home unit coin for the 187th AES.
The wings engraved on the case are those of the Air Force and Duncan’s senior nurse wings.
While presenting the flag to the health center, Duncan was reunited with a former student of hers, Mary Alderson.
Alderson, who currently serves as president on the SHC executive board, was in Duncan’s class at Sheridan College in the early 2000s.
“(It’s) very inspiring because she went from being a professor at the college, now she’s a nurse practitioner and has done so much with her life,” Alderson said. “And a part of community service, I mean really serving not only Sheridan but the world.”
Duncan has waited more than a year to present the flag to the health center, but the time put in and miles traveled are worth it.
“It’s an honor to come back and do this because this clinic has given so much to me, I just wanted to give something back to them that was just as meaningful to me,” Duncan said. “Sharing in my deployment and flying the flags is a once in a lifetime or twice in a lifetime experience, but to be able to bring it back — yeah, this is hometown to me.”