One late night during the summer of 2007, I was abruptly awaken by a Currier with a message that the Battalion Commander wanted to see me ASAP.
I quickly got myself together and made a mad dash to the Battalion Headquarters where the Commander was awaiting.
My Platoon Leader, a young Lieutenant, just went on a 30 day leave so I was acting Platoon Leader, Platoon Sergeant, and because we were short of Medics, I would go out on missions with the Scouts (PSD) and who ever else needed support.
The Battalion had been given a late mission from Brigade coming from Division. It always seemed that we would always have short notice for critical planning, but, sometimes this is the nature of our business. We must be flexible especially in an environment such as in Iraq OIF 2006-2008.
It was my task to provide a plan for Brigade the medical support for an up coming mission that would require a main push of our Battalion assets. All the Company elements will play a role given areas of responsibilities.
This will be a door to door seek and find mission of enemy elements in an area where Americans had not been. This was going to be potentially dangerous. Of course, before I was to present my plan of support for this mission, I would have to give the plan to the Battalion leadership first.
That is a smart move because we all must be on the same sheet of music. Of course, before I shared the plan to Battalion, our Company Commander and First Sergeant wanted to know what my plan was before I did anything.
As you can see, this was very labor intensive and the plan had to be accepted up the chain. I had already a good plan of support at the Company level as my squad leaders were doing a good job keeping me informed of the missions they had been conducting. This upcoming mission was going to be a major push that would require the Division to move forward.
I had to establish a temporary Aid Station to move to a central location not far from the action.
I would have to ensure a good Evacuation route from all avenues of approach. I would need a good estimate calculating the supplies I would need to have on hand.
I had to ensure that the logistics supporting this mission was all in place. This would have to be briefed to all the leadership and I would be the one to present it.
Everyday there were the meetings, the preparation of the power point presentations. If your act was not together, it would not be good so everyone tried to stay ahead of the program. You are the subject matter expert and you were expected to know the questions and answers before you presented yourself.
You had to know backwards and forwards what your role was and to know what your team leaders of the other sections were doing. In other words, if the Scouts had a mission, I needed to know what it was and how I was going to support them.
I had to know from the point of attack how long it would take an Evacuation Black Hawk helicopter to arrive at the scene and then how long it would take to get the casualties back the the green zone. I had the Golden Hour incorporated in the plan.
Whenever there are casualties, if you can get the wounded to the Green zone and on an operating table in an hour, you greatly increase the chance of survival for many of our Soldiers. We have the best Military strategy the world has ever seen and I am proud to have played a major role at the tip of the spear.
During all this stress and daily headaches, I was able to keep up with my commitment to the Rosary Patrol. Prayer has always been my shield especially going out in harms way. All along the way to completion, I presented my plans of action and I was able to answer any and all questions relating to the mission.
I was not usually one of the ones who was held back getting yelled at. On the morning of the kickoff, I was supporting our Echo Company Elements who was building a Joint Security Station (JSS) in the middle of enemy strongholds. We had three Companies conducting mop up missions which were highly successful.
As we were rolling down the road, we were attacked with small arms fire and IED.
I was riding in a vehicle right behind the hit vehicle. There was a large explosion and the debre, smoke, and dust literally made it hard to see. The vehicle right in front of me was hit by an IED.
I was the first on the scene with my Aid Bag as the vehicle Commander gave support ensuring that I was protected under fire.
I had two critically wounded Soldiers and I treated their life threatening injuries first and packaged them at the scene.
I made the decision to Evacuate the wounded by vehicle to the JSS where I had a set Helicopter pad available. This was a short two miles away from point of impact.
I could have called for the evacuation to come to the location where we were hit, but the terrain was not the ideal place. As far as the plan went, it was picture perfect. My plan worked as planned and the wounded were on the operating table within 45 minutes.
This showed the Command that we had the right plan in place and I was thankful that the wounded survived. Two of them did have to evacuation back to the States, but they went home alive.
It was another good day, when we did not lose anyone, that was always a good day. I would receive a Combat badge with a star that would make me the old man in the Battalion.
That is rarely seen, but once in a while you will see someone with the badge with a star. Besides myself, I seen one other but for me the most important thing was no body died.
I look back at this today and I am so thankful to God, I don't know what it would have been like for me without my Catholic Faith. For me, this was more than a healing.
Acts 16:26-28 gives this example of being in danger: "and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were unfastened. When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!"
Joshua 1:9 states, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
We may find ourselves where dangers lurk, it is important that our faith and trust in the Lord be our hope and guide as we face the uncertainties before us.