THREE SOLDIERS |
November 28, 2007
Name: Combat Doc
Posting date: 11/28/07
Returned from: Iraq
Milblog url: candle_in_the_dark.blogspot.com
Lots of people say they want to go to war. Some people watch too many movies. Many join and are just where they need to be. You never know how you're going to react to something until that something happens. Most who join are exactly who they think they are, and the fact that they came in shows their worth. The sight of the reality for the first time, though, is where you find your place. For others the sight of the reality may take you back to somewhere you don't want to be again.
I was at the hospital the other day with two new privates who were doing their clinical training for AIT*. A soldier from the 82nd was there who had been RPG'd the week before and had a mangled left arm that had been flayed open and reassembled. His wrist had been shattered, the skin on the back of his hand was macerated from the past week of sweat and ointments that covered his arm. The staples and stitches snaked around the extremity delineated with blood and bruising.
We cleaned, dressed and splinted his arm as the two newbies watched in confusion and wonder. Three surgeons and myself hovered over this soldier as he wailed and moaned through squeezed lips. I wiped blood as we pulled staples and the wounds opened and leaked as we tried to give this kid some of his old life back.
He'll be fine, but he won't be himself. Neither will the two newbies.
I turned to them when we were done, the soldier sitting in his wheelchair waiting for the pain to subside, using his thumb and index finger to push his eyes into his head. The two looked shocked but not frozen. I pulled the bloody gloves off and made sure to throw them away in the can behind them.
"You have an opportunity most new soldiers never get. This is the reality of it, gentlemen. This is what you're going to see." They nodded and understood. One couldn't take his eyes off the soldier.
I was proud. I helped three soldiers with the war that day. One who knew it all too well, and two who now know it for the first time.
* AIT: Advanced Individual Training