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    Posted December 1, 2011 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Stories from the Iraq war

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    Collateral Damage


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Mikeb1 served in the U.S. Navy from July 1999 to October 2004 and served in Iraq from March to June 2003. He now lives in Austin, Texas, and says, 'Whether Iraq was a worth while or not it remains a story of violence and loss. Even if Iraq has gotten better, the war is still a tragedy.' He shot this photo in Kuwait, prior to the invasion, of some of the men in his unit.
    - dsashin, CNN iReport producer

    I was Navy Corpsman (medic) serving in the Fleet Marine Force during the invasion of Iraq. My unit was a Shock Trauma Platoon, a military medical crew capable of traveling hundreds of miles a day and setting up a field hospital in minutes. Our job was to follow the frontline, to set up our hospital, and to treat the wounded’s most severe injuries right after they were hurt so that they would survive being medevac’d to a larger facility.

    On April 6th, 2003 an American tank got into a firefight with an enemy tank near where my field hospital had been set up. In between the two dueling machines had been a house, and in that house two large families had been hiding in an attempt to wait out the invasion. From inside this house the Marines had taken seven civilian casualties, two of whom were small boys around eight years of age. I responded to a call for help and arrived on scene minutes after the firefight.

    My partner and I split up and attended the four worst injured. He took two of the remaining adults and I attended the two children. One of the boys had had all of the fingers on his left hand blown off, and a piece of shrapnel had passed through his ankle severing his right foot and sent chunks of bone, dirt, and sod into the surrounding tissue. The other little boy showed signs of internal bleeding, had a shrapnel injury to his heel, and an open fracture on his arm from which more than an inch of bone protruded.

    We stabilized them as best as we could onto stretchers and loaded them into the ambulance. During the ride back to the hospital my partner and I tried to immobilize the patients, but the ambulance was driving off-road and it was impossible. The patients bounced around and their partial amputations bounced along with them. Their pain was horrible, and I could do little to relieve it. They moaned, screamed, and cried the whole way back. Once we reached the hospital I gave report and turned the patients over to the physicians.

    Now eight years later I still think about that day a lot. I wonder what happened to those people, what those two boys, both now sixteen years old are like, and how they live. On a good day I imagine they are doing well, and on bad days I imagine how terrible it must be to be a farmer without a hand or foot. Like all Americans I wonder if the war was worth it and if we did the right thing. Like many Americans I will probably never feel very good about it either way.

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