HEARTS OF GREATNESS |
October 17, 2011
Yesterday morning I was informed that a Soldier would be seeing me after our morning report for injuries sustained during a mission the night before. This Soldier was different, though. He was furry, cute, and showed his appreciation through licking my face and wanting to play. His name was Gizmo and he was an 80lb Special Forces Belgian Malinois work dog.
This pup injured himself during a mission on steep rocky terrain when he slipped and fell, injuring his front right side, which has caused a limp ever since. There are no orthopedic veterinarians in our region of Afghanistan, so I happen to be the next best thing; after meeting Gizmo I think he agreed. I examined him and localized his pain to his shoulder and paw. We needed to do X-rays to further evaluate my new patient so our FOB vet gave him a mild sedative. Once he was in a calm state we positioned him and radiographs were taken.
Fortunately for Gizmo he had no fractures and likely just contused his shoulder and paw. His sedation was reversed and specific instructions were given to his handler which included an oral anti-inflammatory. Gizmo will follow up with our vet after two weeks of recovery to clear him for future missions. It’s not every day a patent of mine licks me to show their thankfulness, but as long as they're cute and furry I don’t mind.
This morning I was barraged with consults and follow-ups. It took me some time to catch up, but eventually I succeeded. Sergeant W was one of the more interesting stories today. He was sent to see me after sustaining a knee injury in a high elevation mountainous area; actually too high for a medevac helicopter to reach him. He spent more than a day at an extreme elevation waiting to see if a Blackhawk could reach him but after a period of time an airlift was not in the cards. So through rough steep terrain, two fellow soldiers had to carry him down to a location where the altitude was amenable for a Blackhawk to reach him. The trek took his comrades 12 hours of effortful hard-earned sweat, but gallantly they succeeded and Sergeant W was medevaced to our FST.
I never got to meet these two helping Soldiers and likely will never have the chance. They were a part of Sergeant W’s unit and he informed me that a beer back in the U.S. will not suffice; he will be buying them a keg. I don’t think he will ever live this event down. Call it a hunch. After evaluating him I sent him to Germany for an MRI of his knee for further radiographic investigation. This Soldier will likely end up back in the U.S. for surgery, but his long term prognosis is excellent.
Tomorrow is going to be a memorable day for me. I recently was promoted to Major, and the ceremony will be tomorrow at 11A.M. An in theater deployment promotion is definitely a morale booster for me. I have been notified some special guests will be present for the event and feel honored. I decided the officer that will lead the ceremony will be Major Joseph Jennette one of the general surgeons on the FST with me. Joe and I have become very good friends over the last 2 ½ months and I anticipate we'll remain so for the rest of our lives.
There is something about friendships that develop in theater. It’s an intense stressful period of time in your life unlike anything the civilian world can match. Your life is always in jeopardy, and there is not much comfort material items can offer. The only comforts are trust in the man/woman next to you going through the same experience. This trust comforts you, motivates you, and brings everything out of you. "No Soldier left behind" is a real mantra of life out here. I’m not on the other side of the wire like those who are the real heroes, in my opinion, but I feel it. There is a common patriotic, spiritual and emotional bond among us all and it can’t be ignored. If you’re listening or not it will eventually overcome you and instill greatness in all hearts within its grasp; it sure has mine.