March 13, 2011

Name: Scott
Stationed in: Afghanistan
Milblog: The Sand Docs

Today a young boy died.

We were paged this morning for a casualty. An eight year-old boy in an IED blast. He set off the explosive on foot at his village. American forces arrived at the scene and performed first aid. The boy stopped breathing in the field. The flight medic took over his care but the patient was pulseless and needed CPR during the flight.

He arrived with tourniquets on both legs to prevent bleeding from the stumps that remained. Had he lived he would have been a bilateral amputee. His head was wrapped in bandages that hid major skull indentations and exposed brain. One of his eyes was missing.

We pronounce the boy dead and cleaned and wrapped his body . His father had flown in on the helo and so was able to spend time with his son. He was visibly upset. Most of the rest of the day was spent trying to facilitate the father bringing his boy home for burial before sunset as is their custom.

The atmosphere in the FST was unusually hushed afterwards. You grow rather thick skin in this job but even thick skin can be penetrated by a sharp edge. This case seemed to be that. In another world, this boy could have been a play date for my own sons who are his age.

I have written that our days have been quiet in recent weeks. The lull in action along with the approach of our departure portended to a leisurely end to this mission. But much has changed in the past few days between the extension of our deployment and the resumption of violence. During the lull, my blog entries had veered towards the glib. Much of that was due to lack of anything else to write. Now that the war seems to have no intention of letting us leave quietly, I admit that lightness of being feels like a luxury. I am weary of writing about violence.

We are fortunate to have an out. In a few weeks we will return home where bombs and guns make the news but don't penetrate our lives. This man and his family have no such out. It is they who have a right to claim weariness.


"Once your mission is complete, then what?" This is a question that I have been asked by numerous family and friends since I returned from war. Previously deployed military personnel know this question along with many others all too well. We do our part by assisting with the cause, and then once our time is up, we depart for to our home stations and attempt regain our normal lives. Many of us walk off the plane. Some are carried off. We fight only to gain peace and some stabilization. We then leave the host nation to continue to deal with post-war stabilization. We attempt to make the country better than the pre-war period, but some are left feeling like things are worst. All of our lives forever changed by what we have experienced, we pick-up the piece as best we can. Violent images may plague our minds. In time, some of these images are forgotten. Many have become numb to reports of Soldiers and civilian being killed as a result of these wars. During a period where our country has been fighting on two fronts for over 9 years, it’s no wonder that citizens are stoic. "Once your mission is complete, then what?" Til this day, I have yet to provide an answer that seems to satisfy anyone. I think they are all too weary to accept my response.

MAJOR, U.S. Army
ILE Staff Group 21A

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