Here is my account of 25 June 2007, and the events that happened to me that day. I have to put it out there because people have to know. please understand these events are painful for me to recount.
It was a normal day like any other. We were all excited to be getting back, but i was exuasted having pulled a 4 hour gaurd shift right before getting off. We all sat around and joked. I could hear people laughing about the game "company of heroes" that Craig and WillieBo had played. They'd gone for 5 hours only to get their asses kickedby the germans. I was fretting over Jubi. I was a little upset, because he was supposed to have been evaced the night before for (what i would find out later) a slipped disk. I had given him morphine right before i thought he was going to go, he didn't and i was bracing for the ass reeming i was going to get. I had spent all night fretting about a patient, and in the end i was pretty damm tired, everyone else on the otherhand were lively in a way only the loose cannons can be.
Like always we had details to do, and things that needed to get done. Clean the pisser, sweep and mop, make the "gym" look pretty, Mop the mats, sweep the sleeping bay, and of course pick up cigarette buts. we did these, with the usual amount of bitching complaining and griping. It came time to load up and off we went.
I am sorry to say that i was pretty tired. It is not unusual for me to sneak a short minute or two nap, but of course i never stay out long. I still try to watch for IEDs (but i have since learned that it is nearly impossible to spot them) but on this day, as we were nearing our old COP i was fully awake. I remember taking these same streets through our old AO many times and the street corner itself was well known. I saw a dirt mound on the right and "grandpa time" as we call him, was pointing it out. Lewis called out a white chair just after the mound. Sgt Johnson the TC, and reently come down from s-3 asked for an explination, and lewis was telling him about the intel we got about white chairs being used to mark IEDs. and then . . . BOOOM
the vehicle behind us got hit with an EFP. "SHIT" while there were asking for confused reports on the radio, i screamed "SGT Johnson get me back there" and then we heard "Craig is dead" over the raidio "FUCK" i remeber screaming out the curse in pure frusteration. We continued to roll. for another hundred meters we rolled.
"get doc back here"
"craig is KIA"
I need no further incentive. I remember throwing the aidbag on and running full tilt to 2-7. the back of the turrent was destroyed. and the doors were all open. I saw imediatly that the crew was moving around, except for craig. I saw him crumpled, sitting on the radio mount. It is not the first time i saw this pose. Doubtless it will not be the last. His left leg was bent bak behindhim in a pose that, had he been at all responsive to pain would have jared him a little bit. but he was unconcious. At that moment extractaion was thr priority. I went to grab under the armpits, and his right arm cam flying out, or what was left of it. The bloody nub of his severed right arm almost smaked me in the face, it was severed right abovethe elbow. I was trying to pull him out of the TC side dismount door, when i saw Bishop on the other side.
"GET HIS CAT(tournaqet)" i screamed.
I ordered bishop to get Craig's legs strait, and then had Fig help me pull him out. Once on the ground, the CAT was in my hand before i had to ask. i put it on his arm and started to really examine him. His jaw was obviously broken, and deformed, his chin resting almost on his trachea. Every breath sounded like a wet slobbery snore. He was choking on his own blood.
It seemed like an eternity. I called for a backboard, and littersrtaps, when they didn't have any i called for a tallon (collapsable litter) Fig was holding Craig, and crying. I did not have that luxury, yet. I gut the rest of his gear off and began to bandage his arm with kirlex. the litter arived and i screamed "get him on." fig moved to the legs and we counted together 1,2,3! we lifted craig's lipm body onto the stretcher. I called for 2-3 to come up, and to their credit, they drove right up. We had trouble getting the streher to fit. and in the end we had to jusy right something. I was stancing on the TC side dismount huddled over Craig, baisically holding on to him, as he spattered blood all over the driver's seat. I was aksed if i was in, and i said "yea go" then they slammed he door on my foot.
The ride to loyalty was quick, and it was terrifying. Leo was lighing the way with his 240, andat first we thought we were being shot at. I remember holding on to Craig. Holding onto his chest. Willie BO was gunning and relaying for me. About the time we got to loyalty his breathing got really bad. i tried to relay that they needed advaned airway ready, and that they needed an assload of suction. From time to time i would look up, and see nothing but brown, as we twisted and turned. how Aeti got us there without crashing is a mystery to me.
We pulled up to the aid station, litter barers ready. They came to my door, and i screamed "no the other side" they didn't ask they just ran over there. I remeber they asked me if i gave anything, and i replied no time. i walked with them all the way to the doors of the aidstation. Once he was out of my hands i walked around and as if i had to catch my breath i took two deep breathes before i collapsed into tears in the corner. I really don't want to talk about (here) some of the things that happened in the time he was at the aid station. But i knew the prognosis wasn't good.
When the bird landed they took Jonny out. andasked the bird to wait for craig. The chaplin held me. There wasthis eery build up and i remeber a sense of dread comming upon me. when he rolled out, they were doing CPR on him. I would have collapsed right there if the chaplin had not caught me. we were gathered up, told it was "very serous" and eventually we got ready to go. The ride back to Rusty was a quiet one. No one spoke.
When we got there LT was waiting for us. he toldus to gather around.
"I want to thank you for all your hard work, but unfortunatly Craig's injuries were too severe, he didn't make it"
Bishop screamed, March cried, LT barely got that sentance out. I couldn't see anymore after that, because of the tears in my eyes. Everyone hugged me, many expressed that if ever they were hurt they wanted me working on them. still bloddy, i went into my room dropped my gear ans simply cried my eyes out.
we were told to gather round the CQ desk, told to getour heads right. It was at this point that the BC was ordering a ham sandwich on battalion net. It felt like a slap in the face, but then the whole day had. I couldn't really deal with it all, but i had work to do. I went up to the hospital, blood still all over my ACUs, despite people telling me to take a shower. i gave my report on Jubi, and walked away beaten and battered. I can not begin to describe how empty i felt. Right then i wished i had never re-enlisted, and wished Lisa were there. I wished everything, simply if i could not be there. But eventually (2 hours later) i went and took a shower. You know it is truly amazing how a hot shower can makeyou feel.
I want to end on this note. I felt Craig's death was my fault and that i failed him. The irony is that after Harrelson died i began to accept that it wasn't my fault and that it was simply "his time" from impact to loyalty was 7 minuets. that's unheard of. i did eveything humanly possible for him. In the endthe chaplin told me simply (but firmly) "you are NOT God, you CAN'T save everyone, and eventually EVERYONE dies. a lot of medical people have this messiah complex, and itmakes them good at their jobs, but you won't always save them" I will not be able to save them all. I didn't have a chance to even touch Harrelson. Four soldiers have died under my care. It makes me realize how precious life is, at any moment it could be your last. I will "live it up" as much as i can.