Kamiak war hero honored for service

Kyle Storbakken, an ex-Army medic, received a truck from Epic Ford NW
By Brandon Gustafson | Jan 31, 2018
Courtesy of: Epic Ford Northwest Kyle Storbakken while serving in the Army. Storbakken was a field medic and then a flight medic. He was awarded a Bronze Star with Valor during his service.

When Rachel Chambers saw an Epic Ford Northwest commercial about a contest honoring veterans, she knew she had to do something for her boyfriend, Kyle Storbakken.

Storbakken, a retired Army veteran who served as a field medic in the mid 2000s, is a Kamiak High School grad that currently lives in Everett with Chambers.

The contest Epic Ford put on was their “Nominate a Hero” promotion, where people could submit letters about why a veteran in the area should be gifted a brand new Ford F-150 courtesy of the dealership.

“I was watching TV at a friend’s house when I saw the commercial,” Chambers said. “I initially forgot about it, but I drove past the dealership on Evergreen and saw a billboard with an ad for the contest, and that’s when I went and started the submission.”

Chambers, who entered the contest without Storbakken knowing, used his military documents and chose some of the best stories she could find.

“It took some time, and I really wanted to honor him for what he’s done,” Chambers said.

In the submission, she gives a thorough story of Storbakken’s journey in the Army, starting with when he enlisted.

“I was back home in Everett and 9/11 had happened, and I was really emotionally driven,” Storbakken said. “A good friend of mine had recently passed away in the spring, and I was a young kid kind of looking for a sense of direction in life.”

Storbakken enlisted, completed training in June of 2002 in Fort Benning, Georgia, and was deployed to Kuwait in January of 2003.

Storbakken was in the initial invasion of Baghdad, Iraq, in March of 2003 as well.

“We went in that first day in Baghdad when the statue came down,” he said.

Storbakken returned home in June that same year and continued to take medical courses. After a few months, he was deployed to Afghanistan where he was promoted to a flight medic with the 159th Medical Company Air Ambulance stationed at Bagram Airfield.

One of Storbakken’s most positive takeaways from the whole experience serving was in Pakistan where he rescued a soldier.

“We were in Pakistan, and we had to pull a guy up (into a helicopter),” Storbakken said. “I hoisted him up with the harness, and I had to get an IV in him in the back of the moving helicopter.

“We barely got him back in time, and I was told he was about two minutes from dying.”

Chambers’ favorite story from Storbakken’s military days was when he helped deliver a baby in the back of a helicopter.

“Kyle and Lt. Col. David Barber, who he worked closely with in Afghanistan, were called on the night of March 12, 2005, to help transport a pregnant Afghani woman and her husband from Shkin to a hospital in Khowst in the Blackhawk helicopter,” Chambers’ submission letter said.

“The woman had been in labor for 18 hours, and her health was quickly deteriorating. During the short flight, the woman went into active labor, and Kyle, alongside Lt. Col. Barber, successfully delivered a healthy 6.5-pound baby girl.”

Kyle was honorably discharged from the Army as a sergeant in June of 2006, and during his deployment he received the Bronze Star with Valor for helping assist six critically injured Marines after they were ambushed.

After returning to Everett, he had some difficulties with his work, and he was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury from a mortar explosion in Afghanistan. He had volunteered to stay an extra three months so two other medics could spend Christmas with their families, and a mortar exploded near him while he was working out.

Upon further testing, Storbakken was deemed a disabled veteran.

When Epic Ford contacted Chambers, saying her submission was moving on in the contest, she was told the winner would be picked randomly out of a hat when they reduced it to five submissions.

Initially, Storbakken didn’t know Chambers had even submitted a letter for the contest.

“I didn’t know until she submitted the paperwork back in November,” Storbakken said. “I’m really appreciative of Rachel.”

Epic Ford received so many submissions that the contest was pushed back to January, rather than December as initially planned.

Chambers called the dealership and learned her submission had made it to the final 10 of the contest.

“They called us and said they had brought in a third party, and they had all chosen Kyle’s story,” Chambers said. “The owner of the dealership told me the write-up actually made him cry.”

On Jan. 21, Epic Ford held a ceremony honoring Storbakken and giving him the keys to his brand new truck.

The ceremony included live music and food for friends and family.

“It was an honor to be able to recognize Kyle Storbakken with a new Ford F-150 for his extraordinary military service and commitment to our community,” Jeff Swickard, the owner of Epic Ford Northwest, said. “Our culture is one of service, and we admire, recognize and appreciate service to our country, customers and community. We hope that he enjoys his new F-150 for many years to come.”

Storbakken is blown away by the amount of care and support he’s seen recently.

“The truck is amazing, but it’s more amazing that they (Epic Ford) did something like this,” Storbakken said. “So many guys from the military kill themselves, they’re down and out, and it’s awesome to see so many people who care so much, such as Rachel.”

Swickard was happy his dealership could give back to someone who he considers to be a hero.

“The stories of these members of the Armed Forces and veterans are a clear reminder of the heroes that live among us,” said Swickard. “We feel honoring those heroes, whether they are in the Armed Forces, working for animal welfare, fighting childhood cancer or on many other great efforts, strengthens our connection to the community and provides us an opportunity to give back.”


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