Skip to comments.Read this and don't cry - I dare you
Posted on 11/19/2004 10:17:51 AM PST by RtWngr
E-MAIL FROM IRAQ A friend of ours, Heidi, a doctor and Lt. Cmdr. in the Navy, just finished a seven-month deployment to Iraq treating wounded Marines. Just a few weeks ago, she came home to her 2-year-old twins she left with her husband while she served in Iraq. While waiting for her flight home, Heidi wrote an e-mail home listing the good and the bad of her tour of duty. She did this for closure and healing, hoping that somehow the trauma, the fear, the grief, the laughter, the pride and the patriotism that she experience in those long seven months would begin to make sense, through her writing. She wrote: "So here goes ... in reverse order of importance ...
THINGS THAT WERE GOOD Sunset over the desert, almost always orange. Sunrise over the desert, almost always red. The childlike excitement of having fresh fruit at dinner after going weeks without it. Being allowed to be the kind of clinician I know I can be, and want to be, with no limits placed and no doubts expressed. But most of all, the United States Marines, our patients. Walking, every day, and having literally every single person who passes by say "Oo-Rah, Ma'am..." Having them tell us, one after the other, through blinding pain or morphine-induced euphoria: 'When can I get out of here? I just want to get back to my unit ...' Meeting a young sergeant, who had lost an eye in an explosion. when he could finally open the other eye, he sat up and looked at the young Marines from his fire team who were being treated for superficial shrapnel wounds in the next room. He smiled, laid back down, and said, 'I only have one good eye, Doc, but I can see that my Marines are OK.' And of course, meeting the one who threw himself on a grenade to save the men at his side ... who will likely be the first Medal of Honor recipient in over 11 years ... My friends ... some of them will be life-long in a way that is indescribable. My patients ... some of them had courage unlike anything I've ever experienced before. My comrades, Alpha Surgical Company ... some of the things witnessed will traumatize them forever, but still they provided outstanding care to these Marines, day in and day out, sometimes for days at a time with no break, for seven endless months. And last, but not least ... Holding the hand of that dying Marine.
THINGS THAT WERE NOT GOOD Terrifying camel spiders, poisonous scorpions, flapping bats in the darkness, howling, territorial wild dogs, flies that insisted on landing on our faces, giant, looming mosquitoes, invisible sand flies that carry leishmaniasis. 132 degrees. Wearing long sleeves, full pants and combat boots in 132 degrees. Random and totally predictable power outages that led to sweating throughout the night. Sweating in places I didn't know I could sweat, like wrists, and ears. The roar of helicopters overhead. The resounding thud of exploding artillery in the distance. The popping of gunfire ... Not knowing if any of the above sounds is a good thing, or bad thing. The siren, and the inevitable 'big voice' yelling at us to take cover. Not knowing if that siren was on someone's DVD or if the big voice would soon follow. The cracking sound of giant artillery rounds splitting open against rock and dirt. The rumble of the ground. The shattering of the windows ... Hiding under flak jackets and Kevlar helmets, away from the broken windows, waiting to be told we can come to the hospital ... to treat the ones who were not so lucky. Watching the helicopter with the big Red Cross on the side landing at our pad. Worse, watching Marine helicopters filled with patients landing at our pad ... because we usually did not realize they were coming. Ushering a sobbing Marine colonel away from the trauma bay while several of his Marines bled and cried out in pain inside. Meeting that 21-year-old Marine with three Purple Hearts, and listening to him weep because he felt ashamed of being afraid to go back. Telling a room full of stunned Marines in blood-soaked uniforms that their comrade, who they had tried to save, had just died of his wounds. Trying, as if in total futility, to do anything I could to ease the trauma of group after group that suffered loss after loss, grief after inconsolable grief. Washing blood off the boots of one of our young nurses while she told me about the one who bled out in the trauma bay, and then the one who she had to tell, when he pleaded for the truth, that his best friend didn't make it. Listening to another of our nurses tell of the Marine who came in talking, telling her his name, about how she pleaded with him not to give up, told him that she was there for him, about how she could see his eyes go dull when he couldn't fight any longer. And last, but not least ... Holding the hand of that dying Marine."
Now way in hell I could not shed a tear for that. GOD belss our troops!
I am in awe of all who serve.
Thanks for posting that.
Lost the bet - GOD bless our troops.
Great post. I think our medical folks have the toughest job of all. I swear I'd rather be getting shot at than have to deal with the difficult things they have to see & do.
four for four...
Dad blast. I thought I had more control over my emotions than that. But by the time I got to the Colonel...
Nope, couldn't do it. Just damn. Heroes.
Tears are flowing.
Thanks for the post.
I am so proud of these men and women!
Thank you God for the men and women with such great courage to give of themselves for our freedoms. I am forever in their debt.
For some reason this evokes to me the words of General Patton in this holiday season...
"Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations."
Oh God, be with the men who protect us and give their lives for us. Let their righteousness shine, and protect them with your strength. Bring death, swift and sure, to the evil ones so that your Name may be Glorified. God Bless the USA. AMEN
And it's 36 years ago...all over again.
Semper Fi, Marines; you too, Doc!
Very sad indeed... but tears did not flow... does that make me a bad guy?
you win......God, I love these guys!!!
I couldn't even listen to her read it yesterday without crying. By the time she stopped reading because she was in tears I was crying just as much.
Glad I wore long sleeves to work today. Now they are both soaked.
I couldn't make it either...
My God, how my heart goes out to these brave young men.
God Bless them and watch over them.
You got another one. May God bless and protect our troops.
Wow. I didn't make it either.
My mother was an RN in Europe during WWII. She was a nurse-anethetist in an evacuation hospital, that traveled with the front lines. The stories she told me were exceptional. I'll never forget.
And yes - I agree. The medical personnel are some of the toughest and bravest out there - because war, and everything that goes with it, is the absolute OPPOSITE of the healer.
God Bless the troops - and God Bless the medical personnel.
It's hard to type through the tears.
Semper Fi Marines!
The very last line was too much for me.
God bless our troops....thank you for posting this.
Didn't make it very far.
I need to know more about this hero. How long will it be before we do, I wonder?
The "correspondents" are too busy telling us about the marine who shot an "unarmed" "civilian" in cold blood.
Remembering this is a good antidote for the challenge of this post.
No. Not bad.
I heard Roma trying to read this yesterday.
She was so touched, she couldn't finish it on the air.
Thanks for posting this.
The most haunting and memorable image I have from Iraq so far are the Marine Chinook dustoffs, dropping off (lightly) wounded at night, in blackout conditions. They'll stay on the pad for 10 or so minutes completely obscured by the dust clouds. They'll then lift off, one by one, hover above the dust cloud until the others are airborne, then move out in a line formation. To see that in near total darkness is surreal. It's like a scene from some science fiction movie. Their flying skills are without comparison; like a precision flying team. Which I guess is what they are.
I read as far as the word "closure" and that did it for me; nothing makes me cry quicker than some pop-psychology cr@p about "closure."
to Heidi ... a true warrior doc.
You will always be in my heart for what you have done.
Couldn't do it either. I'm saving this thread, as it is priceless.
Marine Cpl. Jason L. Dunham
22, of Scio, N.Y.; assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, at Twentynine Palms, Calif.; died April 22 at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Md., of injuries sustained April 14 when he used his body to shield comrades from a grenade explosion in Husaybah, Iraq. He has been nominated for a Medal of Honor.
Not a chance
His wife said he was the last one off the plane because that's just the way he is,making sure his men get off and to their loved ones first.
Nope, couldn't do it.
I never stood a chance.
My hubby is a 1sg for a Chinook Co....they are all back from Iraq now.....lost one Chinook and crew to a RPG in Nov of 03....the rest of his Bn, blackhawks, are still there and one of those blackhawks was shot down last week...the pilot, Maj Duckworth, lost both legs and may lose her arm....see tagline.
And if the critics would keep their mouths quiet for 5 minutes...maybe less blood would be spilled by our brave soldiers.