This morning I saw a patient for more than just orthopedic issues; much more for the both of us. Sargent K was a scheduled consult for me by Charlie Company for his knees. He has had problems for years but has not complained about them because he was in a leadership position in his infantry unit; his soldiers were obviously put before his concerns. The issues this soldier has with his knees are significant and most soldiers I have worked with in the past would have used it as a ticket out of the military. He has served for 13 years, 4 deployments and at this point tells me in a defeated tone “I just can’t do it anymore.” I picked up there is more than just his knees bothering him and press further. I find out this soldier of harden steal is cracking within from the recent loss of his platoon leader; tragically the same soldier we lost here in our FST. After hearing this I found myself suddenly re-experiencing the emotional turmoil from that fateful day. It was almost as if time stopped, I looked into his eyes with true understanding, put my hand on his shoulder and let him know he was not alone. I explained that all twenty people of our FST will remember his platoon leader indefinitely. Sargent K reached over to his right shoulder and lifted up his velcroed American flag on his uniform; a black name tape was underneath with big bright red letters across its surface “RED SIX”; the platoon leaders call sign. He had these name tapes made for everyone in his platoon and they all wear them under their American flags; he was an exceptional leader and friend to all of them who put their safety and needs ahead of his own; just like Sargent K. The day he died Sargent K’s platoon leader took the lead ahead of his platoon during a known dangerous route clearance mission; and played the ultimate price. After finishing up my consult Sargent K asked if we also wanted “RED SIX” name tapes to wear in remembrance of him. Without hesitation I said yes as did everyone else standing near me at the time. The name tapes are going to be made for everyone in our FST. “RED SIX” you are a hero and an inspiration to us all; I only wish I could have told you face to face. God bless you, your family, and all the lives you touched.
After a busy morning of consults our FST was notified that two U.S. soldiers were being medevac to us after sustaining shrapnel wounds from a nearby exploding mortar; ETA 30 minutes. It sounded like they were stable from the initial reports but we take those with a grain of salt as we have already been burned. Eventually we were warned the Blackhawk was near and when its pounding blades could be heard everyone took their place in this now well-rehearsed play. The two soldiers were brought into the FST and the trauma resuscitation began. Both soldiers were stable and the majority of their injuries were correctly identified as shrapnel wounds; a lot of them. Joe J and I took the first soldier back to the operating room to remove some of the most superficial fragments and then we washed out his wounds and dressed them. Mike M followed us with the second soldier. Both of these soldiers did not need to be transferred to a higher level of care; we will keep them with us until tomorrow when we will reevaluate them and get them back to their unit soon.
We received 2 more ANA trauma patients immediately following the U.S. soldiers; their injuries were from mortar shrapnel received from a different attack. Both had additional spinal injuries that needed advanced imaging so we coordinated their flight to Baghram.
Tomorrow starts a new week and with it more unpredictable experiences; hopefully more good than bad. I’m ready.
P.S. After a month my sons Turin and Talon finally got the video recording of me reading some books to them. My wife informed me they watched it 10 times throughout the day. Don’t worry boys daddy will do it again.