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.


  1. Thank you for sharing Eric. I just shared it with Jordi and Weeg and we all have tears. Bless you for being there! We miss you.

  2. That picture hit me like a load of bricks. Much love and appreciation to the families who have lost a loved one. God bless those who serve our country. Love you E.

  3. Thanks for this Eric. Helps me appreciate. Thank you for your service!

  4. Thank you sir, for mustering the strength to share this. I've been concerned that you silence was because things were heating up and you were caring for many casualties. Thank you for being there and caring so much, even though you feel great pain at each loss. I believe your caring soul touches the souls of all you care for, even those whose bodies are now dead. God bless you and those who serve with you. I will keep you in my prayers always. Please keep writing as you are able. We need to know what is happening over there. God grant you peace.
    Rev. Debbie Graham

  5. Eric,

    Your writing is profound and compelling. I had tears in my eyes as my fellow teachers chatted about upcoming elections as I read this during recess. Thinking about Guatemala's politics, makes me understand part of the despair in much of the rest of the world, and deepens my respect for our great country and incredibly brave military that much more. Looking at the word now, "brave" is hardly a description.

    Thank you.

  6. This broke my heart SDSD....And yes, it wasn't a coincidence. Stay safe, you are always in my prayers. Huge Hugs~

  7. This was a great read. First time on your blog. Will definitely share. It's so valuable to know what is happening "over there". Thanks.

  8. Eric,

    Compassion is a blessed attribute in a person. I know how you and the team are affected by your mission. Think of the positive side of your work. It's your skills that enable many to survive what they didn't in my war.

    Compartmentalize. Think of the good things in your life-family, friends and Christian's pancakes-more are on the way!


  9. Eric:

    I saw where you were nominated for a Bloggie. What an honor. You do a great service to let us be a witness to your work.

    I am trying to get the word out on some 75,000 ignored heroes of World War II. Pass it around if you like. I couldn't figure out how to get a message to you via e-mail, so I sent a comment. Sorry, I am not too good at this social media stuff.

    I totally understand you will delete this comment. It really has nothing to do with your blog. I just couldn't figure out how else to contact you.

    Many thanks for your time and your service to country,

    Richard Cook

  10. Just a note to let you know I check in on you everyday and pray for you, your comrades and those you help. Your silence suggests you and your team members are busy. God give you all strength for your duties, comfort and healing for the tragedies you have seen and had to deal with. May you all find that peace that passes understanding in sorrow, joy and boredom. Blessing to you all.