The Hurt Lasts For Ever
by James Glaser
A Soldier or Marine dies and his whole family suffers. Parents. Wives, husbands, children, siblings, and friends all suffer that loss. A man that lives down the road from me lost a brother in the Korean War and talking about that loss still breaks him up, over fifty years later.
Over in Iraq we are losing someone almost every day. What most people and this includes those in Washington that started this war, have no idea how much these deaths will effect the troops that witness them.
Let us just say you are in a convoy and the lead vehicle gets blown up by a bomb planted under the road. I don't care where you are in that convoy, you are going to walk up and see what happened. Maybe some of the troops are screaming in pain and some are blown to just pieces. That sight is seared into your brain for the rest of your life. Twenty or fifty years later you can close your eyes and see it all over again, like it just happened.
Maybe it is because you know you could have been in that vehicle. This is especially true with command detonated bombs, because the enemy might let three or four trucks pass and blow up the fifth one. You never know why they let you live, but took your buddy.
Lets say there are a hundred guys in the convoy. Some were close friends to those that got killed, but every one of those hundred are stuck with that memory. Some day you will be driving down the road years later and maybe the sun is at just the right angle as it was back in Iraq and the sweat will start to run down your neck and all the pictures in your mind will come flooding back.
So each and every time some one gets killed or wounded we have to remember that there are many lives effected.
Think about when someone is wounded. Sometimes you can't wait for the corpsman or medic and you have to do what ever you can until trained medical help can get there. Sometimes you don't have a corpsman with you or maybe he is the one wounded. Then it is up to you to keep this guy alive until you can get better help.
Some guys are unconscious, some are screaming in pain, and still others are in shock and feel nothing. All that is going on in your mind is stop the bleeding and why the hell didn't someone else jump in? Some guys have their insides blown out side their bodies, some are missing a whole arm or leg. Sometimes it is hard to figure out just where all this blood is coming from.
That is what happens to the guy helping his friend just after he is hit, but it continues on down the line. Someone comes out to where you are working on the guy and they have some medical training and take over from you. Maybe they have to do more right there before they can start to transport this wounded Marine to a field hospital. At the field hospital doctors and nurses have to work on this guy, but maybe he is in too bad of shape for them and all they can do is stabilize him and send him on to a bigger hospital, that could be all the way back in the states.
So then you have the medics that travel with him trying to keep him alive during the flight and then another set of doctors and nurses work on him in this large hospital. Then after all of this, if he lives, there are another set of people that have care for him, help with physical and mental rehabilitation.
So you can see that just that one wounded Marine can cause many, many people to live through a traumatic event trying to keep him alive. Every one of those people will think about that Marine and that day, for the rest of their lives. You can put it away in the back of your mind, but sometimes it just jumps right out front and there is nothing you can do about it.
Those that die on the battle field might effect less people, but still even the most severely wounded are worked on just as hard as those that make it. Remember somebody has to clean those dead bodies up. In the Marine Corps, that job went to the Graves Registration unit. Also some Marine must escort that dead Marine back to his or her family. Death has a special place in your mind and those that die never age and it is hard to picture them alive as the image of their death is so powerful.
Today President Bush and those that who want this war in Iraq will say we are there and we can't stop now. They can say that, because they never were part of the chain of people that are effected by those that are killed or wounded in combat. If they were, they would be able to recall in full color the horror that is caused by each casualty and would not want anyone else to have to suffer those memories.
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