- Posted December 17, 2011 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Stories from the Iraq war
Reflecting on my time in Iraq
This month marks the effective end of our time in Iraq. The accompanying picture is an aerial view of the FOB (Forward Operating Base - Camp Korean Village, western Al Anbar Province) I lived at from August 2004 to February 2005 while serving as the Senior Enlisted Leader for Shock Trauma Platoon 7.
Despite the obvious austerity (could we have been more isolated?), I would do it all again - it was the people and shared (misery?) events that make it my most remembered deployment.
Many people from this time stand out, but there are those select few that made a difference in a most difficult time and place. These include my "roommate" Tony P. who dealt with the situation by growing sunflowers and brewing espresso every morning; to Vincent N., my right hand man; and of course my friend Master Gunnery Sergeant Al S. who helped me to keep things in perspective. The quirk of living so close to folks builds a level of friendship that many outside of the military will never understand. That's not a slight; it's just how it is.
Our role as medical professionals was to help heal those that were broken, wounded, what have you. I was the lead provider of a trauma bed (1 of 3 that we had) in a very remote, very austere trauma tent - we were the emergency room for the region, a field medical facility within range for that all important “golden hour” of survival.
But beyond the trauma, we were also a sounding board for many who had nowhere else to turn to given the scarcity of resources. Some wanted to vent, and others to just wanted chat to someone new. Our door was open. You would be amazed (or not) at how helpful a friendly ear can be.
We went through so much that is a norm for these deployments but are worth sharing. Beyond the days spent in the trauma tent, we endured sand storms, bad food, burning vehicles, occasional mortar fire, and even snow; laundry in a bucket, fantastic desert lightening storms, pt with a weapon, flights with the 507th medevac group, convoy runs, the first free elections in Iraq, Fallujah, standing in line for geedunk, burned mail, power spikes/outages, a colorless, treeless, featureless landscape, cold Thanksgiving food, and most significantly, lost friends, buddies and comrades.
I value these and other memories and feel it is healthy to share with others. Although, there are some events that are not appropriate for this forum but will remain a part of my memory and soul forever.
Our time may be done in Iraq, but the times are not forgotten. Welcome home to my brothers and sisters, Semper Fi, Fair Winds, and Thanks for all the fish.