Friday, June 3, 2011

Sorrow and Strength

So it's been a while since my last post. Honestly, I just haven't felt much like writing as it's been a rough few weeks here. It all started on Monday, the 16th, which is the only day I'll write about in this post. I was coming back from the gym when I got a page that there were inbound patients, but no further info. The ambulances rolled past me as I hurried to the FST. I could see that CPR was in progress as the first two patients were transferred from ambulance into our trauma center. I came in the back door and as I entered the trauma bay I could see that both of the patients were US forces. As events unfolded, two more patients came in and one of them was also coding. The fourth had obvious facial trauma but was still alert and talking. I took my turn performing chest compressions on two of the patients until the decision was made that nothing further could be done. I retreated toward the OR and found that a fifth patient had been snuck past us into the ICU and had yet to be assessed by a surgeon. As I took the lead on him, I discovered that he had a concussion with short-term memory loss but was otherwise OK... and today was his birthday... 21 years old...

Once I determined he was stable I stepped back into the trauma bay to this scene. (No, there was no puppy, but I was informed today that certain images are verboten on my blog. God forbid everyone at home remember that people are dying over here... )
Today was the first patrol for these boys from the a newly arrived unit and the final patrol for others from the outgoing unit. They were patrolling along highway A-1 when a command detonated IED blew their vehicle 30 meters up the road. Four of the six guys in the vehicle were dead.

These were the first US deaths we'd seen since arriving and the sight of those flag-draped bodies was more painful than I'd imagined they would be. That night, as we stood at attention at the flight line waiting for the helicopters to arrive and take these brave young men on the first leg of their journey back to US soil the silence was deafening. With tears in my eyes, I thought of the many thousands who have died in this war and in wars past to secure our freedom and the freedom of people the world over. I thought of the young man whose birthday would never be the same. Of the families who would soon be hearing that dreaded knock on the door announcing the arrival of a team of soldiers, there to inform them of the realization of the worst fear of every man, woman or child who has kissed a loved one goodbye as they left to do their sworn duty. As the heroes were loaded into the aircraft we rendered a final salute to our fallen brothers and then, in a cloud of dust, they were gone.

I walked home alone and climbed into bed and opened my Bible for my nightly read. I've been reading with the goal of making it through the entire Bible during the deployment and the next chapter in my reading was Psalm 23. I don't believe for a second that this was a coincidence. God provides strength in our times of sorrow.