Forwarded by: the marine that sent this (Vietnam Veteran) to me:
Thirty-nine years ago I was shot in an ambush while a Marine on a night patrol
in Vietnam. I had potentially fatal wounds to my chest and a serious wound to my
right leg. To put matters bluntly, I had never been more terrified in my life.
Would I die? And if I died, would I go to heaven? I also thought about the
buddies I was leaving behind. Somehow,I wanted to believe that they would be
better off without me to slow them down.
The next morning I woke up at a hospital in Da Nang . The doctors told me that
my days as a fighting Marine were over. Somehow, I felt that I had more to give
but wouldn't get the chance.
My history is relevant only because there are huge differences between then and
now when it comes to our Wounded Warriors. For the past couple of years I have
had the privilege of knowing Col. Jack Cox (USA , ret.) who is a stalwart in the
Wounded Warrior Program at Fort Bragg. He has been a great friend and mentor,
and has taken the time to introduce me to some of this generation's wounded.
There are at least two important differences between my generation and the
young men I have seen at Fort Bragg's Womack Hospital which is near where I
For openers, the Army acts as if the wounded person is going to remain forever
a soldier. That is their basic operating assumption moving forward. Second, the
attitude of these kids is amazing. These brave warriors, no matter how badly
wounded they are, believe that they will soon be back with their units fighting
in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Today, there are 17 Marines who are amputees fighting in Iraq. I am certain
that there are as many soldiers doing the same for the Army. Recently, I
received a widely distributed email from Col (Dr.) Brett Wyrick. He was a trauma
surgeon at Balad Air Base in Iraq. He wrote:
"If I ever hear (anyone)
griping and complaining, I jump into them pretty quickly, now. Most people over
here have nothing to gripe about compared to Marines. Marines are different.
They have a different outlook on life . .
"One Marine Private was here for several days because he was a lower
priority evacuation patient. He insisted on coming to attention and displaying
proper military courtesy every morning when I came through on rounds. He was in
a great deal of pain, and it was a stressful to watch him work his way off the
bed and onto his crutches. I told him he was excused and did not have to come to
attention while he was a patient, and he informed me he was a good Marine and
would address'. . . Air Force colonels standing on my feet, sir.' I had
to turn away so he would not see the tear in my eye. He did not have
'feet' because we amputated his right leg below the knee on the first
night he came
"I asked a Marine Lance Corporal if there was anything I could get him as
I was making rounds one morning. He was an above the knee amputation after an
IED blast, and he surprised me when he asked for a trigonometry book. 'You
enjoy math do you?' He replied, 'Not particularly, sir. I was never good
at it, but I need to get good at it, now.' 'Are you planning on going
back to school?' I asked. 'No sir, I am planning on shooting artillery.
I will slow an infantry platoon down with just one good leg, but I am going to
get good at math and learn how to shoot artillery.' I hope he does.
"I had the sad duty of standing over a young Marine sergeant when he
recovered from anesthesia. Despite our best efforts there was just no way to
save his left arm, and it had to come off just below the elbow. 'Can I have
my arm back, sir?' he asked. 'No, we had to cut it off, we cannot
re-attach it,' I said. 'But can I have
my arm?' he asked again.
'You see, we had to cut it off.' He interrupted, 'I know you had to
cut it off, but I want it back. It must be in a bag or something, sir.'
'Why do you want it?' I asked. 'I am going to have it stuffed and
use it as a club when I get back to my unit.' I must have looked shocked
because he tried to comfort me, 'Don't you worry now, colonel. You did
a fine job, and I hardly hurt at all; besides I write with my other hand
Now, please tell me that these young guys aren't the Greatest Generation
that has ever lived.