Military stories from past to present, both wars.

Christmas With the Few, the Proud…

December 27th, 2006 Posted in The SandGram v1.0

Dear Gang,

The trip down to San Antonio was a great event and I think I’ll bid for this trip next year as well because if I have to be away from my family then I’ll go see my “Other Family…Marines.”

I arrived on time in Texas, after another 4:30 am wake-up call in Dayton, Ohio. Very tired, but the anticipation of the visit brought me my second wind. Changing into my dress blues, I waited just a short time for LtCol O.B. to pick me up from the hotel for the ten minute ride to the Brooks Army Medical Center.

Just to give you some background, this is the process if you are wounded and burned while in Iraq. Depending on what base is closest, they stabilize the trauma patient, medivac them to Balad north of Baghdad and then they have a dedicated C-17 airlift on two hour notice to fly them to Germany. From there, they have another C-17 fly them directly to San Antonio Texas to the burn center. Each plane is basically a critical burn ICU and set up with EVERYTHING required to work on a Marine or Soldier while they fly over the Atlantic. It is amazing to know that one of our wounded servicemen or women can be snatched from the filthy streets of Iraq and within twenty-four hours, they are stabilized in an ICU stateside.

They have the VERY best Doctors and nurses on staff plus all the outside Doctors who come to treat our boys as well. There are apartments built next to the hospital called the Fisher house where the families stay so they are able to be with their wounded sons/husbands during their recovery. I was so impressed with every aspect of treatment that our guys get, and I can’t tell you how proud I am of the Army for the facility they have put together.

As we drove over to the hospital, the Colonel briefed me on what to expect and that some of the guys were in very serious stages of recovery. The first time he went into one of the wards, he said it was enough to make you want to vomit. We first started with a Lt (we’ll call him Lt Dan). He was wounded two months ago, and now was a day away from being discharged. He was there with his Mom and Dad while his wife and son were back at the Fisher house. This Marine was burned over 60% of his body and within two months was on the move and ready to leave. I’m talking about sheer will power, positive love and faith from his family and friends, and a will to live and a drive that if I could bottle, I’d be a multi-billionaire…

He was joking about being back up to a 300 PFT (the run test I hate) in less then a year and I believe him. We had a great time joking about some of the knuckle heads we had while over there in Iraq. I am thinking that I will have to have an arranged marriage with his son and my daughter since they both have blue eyes and their daddy’s are Marines. Lt Dan is ready to heal and get back in the Fleet with his men. I tried to talk him into moving into the Aviation field, but I don’t think I was able to convince him.

The tour started with him and then progressed through the others who were in various stages of healing. It is amazing how fast these guys pull through. They have the treatment down to a science and are able to show a guy what things will be like in a few months which to me, is a positive thing. I was overwhelmed by the positive attitudes they had and the jokes they told.

The last two Marines I saw were in Intensive care and we had to dress in gowns, hats, gloves, masks and shoe covers. See, as they repair the skin, the temperature in the room is elevated to around 90 degrees or so to keep them comfortable since they have no blankets etc. to help keep them warm. They were on drugs so the visits were very short.

It really blows the mind to see them from just a week back in country from Iraq and then about to check out two months later. I have to say that I was amazed by the dedication of the staff, the volunteers, the facilities and the love that surrounded these men. I left with a great appreciation for the young men that volunteer for the service, and believe that we have the best military in the world!!

As I stated at the beginning, next year, I will bid for this trip again if I can and since I can’t be with my family, I’ll be with my “Other Family.” It sure was a blast playing Santa Clause and passing out those cards and Wal-Mart gift cards thanks to the generosity of so many friends and family members. Next year, I’ll start earlier. I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and have a safe and Blessed New Year!!!
Semper Fi,