Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size
Login

Military Photos



Online
There are 240 users online

You can register for a user account here.
Library of Congress

Military Quotes

Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men.

-- General George Patton Jr
Service in the Desert8094 Reads  Printer-friendly page

Iraq It was 3:00 A.M.. Although the sun’s rays had retreated hours before, its hot breath refused to dissipate from the steppes of Kuwait’s Ad Dibdibah plain. The heat attacked us from all sides. Airborne sandy powder hung above us and dimmed lights as if in a London fog.

One by one, all members of the battalion encircled our small "Band of Brothers" and cluster of convoy vehicles-they had, without being ordered, chose to wish us safe passage on our sojourn to Iraq. As the Chaplain prayed, we all wondered if our souls were ready should He request an inventory of our lives.

My army unit was being tasked for a mission in Iraq. That morning, I prepared to move out with a small lead element that was to reconnoiter an area where the main body would relocate to-our destination was Ad Diwaniyah, Iraq. This was south of Babylon where civilization had begun.

Intelligence briefings warned that insurgents had been active along the route we were to travel. Appropriate Force Protection info was given-suddenly, the desiccated saliva in my throat grew to a dry, furry tennis ball; swallowing failed to ameliorate the choking sensation.

Why was I there, in Kuwait, and now heading for Iraq? Collectively, that question was infecting us all. In retrospect, I believe God had had a hand in my being allowed to serve, in the military, in a time of war. Although a 9mm pistol hung from my belt, He allowed me to serve Him, and the Army, without it ever leaving its sand encrusted holster.

The sun, a most unwelcome fiery orb, soon began its westward migration, and our vehicles, pregnant with supplies, groped the sizzling hardball with the speed of a glacier. Each glance, form right to left, recorded a cerebral picture as vivid as a 10 billion pixel image-charred tank skeletons, gun emplacements that had lost their duels with "smart bombs", breached sandy berms and towns with masses of children attacking us with smiles and thumbs up gestures.

Although I was tasked to keep our battalion's health in check, my real job was waiting for me up the road. My itinerary was prepared by God, and the Army afforded the venue.

Serving in a fixed base, air conditioned "C.A.S.H" hospital (where everyone wore daily fresh fatigue uniforms) was not to be-instead, I was to travel, eat, sleep and suffer with a line unit. Working out of a canvas M-5 aid bag was as high tech as it got. I, the PA, nurse and medics were tapped to minister to wounded Iraqis, and Islamic insurgents, in the city prison.

Upon arriving at our destination, Camp Edson, the U.S. Marines greeted us and did all they could to assist us in our mission. Soon, a dedicated Iraqi physician showed up at the compound gate and asked for our assistance. The city hospital was critically low on medicine and supplies. After visiting the local hospital, I realized that God was again involved in my odyssey.

Although not officially sanctioned, the medics "procured" a huge cache of medical supplies. Daily, we made our way to the hospital where the medicines were received with smiles of biblical proportions. That Iraqi hospital was choked by a sea of desperate souls-limbless, weak, filthy and dying-looking into their eyes told vivid stories about how miserable things had been.

Work at the prison was grueling, hot, frustrating and endless. Within its sand colored walls were fly infested cells that reeked. I often thought of the infamous Black Hole of Calcutta and how similar it must have been to where we worked. Al Queda, Hamas Baath Party and street thugs were crammed into sweltering cells. All seemed to have an eclectic array of maladies-infected bayonet/gunshot wounds, abscesses, burns and festering, maggot laden sores.

Administering whatever antibiotics we had, to the sick, would have triggered a peer review investigation, in the U.S.; however, there, by God's hand, no matter what was used afforded improvement, and the wounds healed.

Despite the heat, sweat, filth and flies, seeing the prisoners' smiles, on our daily rounds, made me believe that what was being done, as crude as it seemed, was appreciated again, God was there.

My tour of duty eventually came to a close. My exit from Iraq was in the belly of a Marine helicopter. After lift off, I gazed down at the barren, lifeless-appearing Syrian Desert and reflected on my mission. I was blessed to have served my country, fellow soldiers and the wounded enemy. Somehow I know that our efforts made a difference.

Note: by Richard L. Klingler, MD LTC MC USAR, U.S. Army 310th MP Battalion


Comments

Display Order
Re: Service in the Desert
by Anonymous
on Oct 01, 2004
God Bless you Sir. Thank you for your service for me and my family.
Cindie Carey
Ladera Ranch,California
a mom

Re: Service in the Desert
by Anonymous
on Aug 30, 2005

Thank you for helping the wounded , sir(fellow soldier,civilians or wounded Pow alike). I think that a medic has no enemy in the battle field (except wounds). I'm a sunni muslim I do not like what your army is doing there , but you are right God was there with you in that trip and it made a difference of course!


Only logged in users are allowed to comment. register/log in
Related Links

Most-read story in Iraq:
Convoy Thru Hell
Military History
Forum Posts

Military Polls

Should women be officially placed in combat-support units on the front lines as planned by the Army?

[ Results | Polls ]

Votes: 73

This Day in History
1863: Confederate President Jefferson Davis names General Joseph Johnston commander of the Army of Tennessee.

1864: The Battle of Nashville concludes with a Union victory.

1904: Japanese warships quit Port Arthur in order to cut off the Russian Baltic fleets advance.

1940: British troops carry out an air raid on Italian Somalia.

1944: The Germans launch the last major offensive of the war, Operation Mist, also known as the Ardennes Offensive and the Battle of the Bulge, an attempt to push the Allied front line west from northern France to northwestern Belgium. The Battle of the Bulge was the largest fought on the Western front.

1950: The U.S. 24th Infantry Division received the Distinguished Unit Citation (now the Presidential Unit Citation) for "extraordinary heroism in combat against a numerically superior enemy." The division, commanded by Major General William F. Dean, by then a prisoner of war, was the first U.S. division to enter the Korean War.

1950: In the wake of the massive Chinese intervention in the Korean War, President Harry S. Truman declares a state of emergency.

1965: Gen. William Westmoreland, Commander of U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam, sends a request for 243,000 more troops by the end of 1966.

1998: The United States launches a missile attack on Iraq for failing to comply with United Nations weapons inspectors.