TEN YEARS LATER
#10 Just What People Do
March 6, 2012…Forward Operating Base Edinburgh, Helmand province,
Afghanistan…Tuesday, and the wind is blowing what feels like an arctic
blast. The sky is not clear. There have been no missions for almost two
days now. We had two medevac calls, however the folks somewhere
higher up decided to give the mission to a different group of folks who
have a sort of flying hospital on a bigger helicopter. Right before take
off on both calls, we got cancelled. It is a complicated decision making
process which I have no idea how it works. What I do know however is
that the folks I am with would have been to and back from the point of
injury before the other bird even landed or possibly even took off.
Whatever the case may be, the folks I am with did not fly missions today
or yesterday. We will see what tomorrow brings. As I have stated
before…if no more missions were conducted during my time here, that
would mean that no families back home stateside would be getting any
bad news from these parts. That is ok by me.
The last mission I was on happened on Sunday. Two boys were caught
up in an IED blast and both sustained serious injuries. The call came for
a medevac and in very short order as usual, we were airborne. The two
pilots on the mission were Lt. Holly Vance and W2 Mr. Jacobson. SSGT
Jason Bowen from Albuquerque was the crew chief and Sgt Heath Petty,
also from Albuquerque, was the medic. We headed in a westerly
direction this time which was the first time I had been on a mission to
pick up injured going that way.
The air was a bit choppy that day as we flew over a couple of mountains
en-route to the POI (point of injury). We circled overhead for a short
while as the LZ was secured. Upon arrival at the scene I saw the colored
smoke once again out my window and could tell their was a bit of wind.
We landed just forward of the small gathering of people tending to the
wounded. Most of the folks having secured the LZ were Afghan soldiers
that looked much more professional than others I had seen recently.
Upon landing Sgt Heath Petty exited
the aircraft and headed to confer
with the medic on the ground to
gather as much information as
possible about the patients before
they were loaded onto the
helicopter. From my vantage point I
could not get a good angle on the
scene. I have been told to never get
out of the aircraft while on scene of
a POI and it is best to stay buckled
up. Obeying all directions, I tried
my best to swing the camera
around the outside of the door and
not drop it as I held down the
button hearing the rapid clicking of
photos being taken. It's always best
to try and get a photo no matter
how difficult the endeavor.
As the patients were brought on to
the aircraft I observed them closely.
Both were young boys, about 12-
years of age. One was being
cradled by his father and holding his
eyes. He (the child) could not see.
The other was on a litter and had
half of one foot blown off. He was
not saying anything and seemed
oblivious to the drama going on around him. I don't see young people
cry here. I mostly just see them die.
This time a father accompanied his son and there was another escort for
the child that had his foot gone. I don't know that persons relationship
to the injured. But now, we had four additional people in the aircraft
when we were counting on two. Things got in order rapidly and the bird
lifted off headed back to the FOB.
I kept my eyes on the one son
whose father was holding him. It
was the first time I had seen
emotion from a parent about an
injured child. Sometimes parents
do not even go along for the ride.
Sometimes they are too afraid to
be seen in the same company with
the American infidels. But this
man apparently cared much for his
son whose eyes were in jeopardy
of not functioning ever again. I
wondered at the time if the reason
there seemed to be more concern for
the injured child this time was
because of the gender of the child.
Others have mentioned to me in the past
that this is indeed the case. It is said that it is better in this culture for a
male child to be injured rather than a female child. So far, I have seen
both situations. From my own observations on this journey only, I
would say that if I was a child and was injured, it would be better for me
to be injured rather than my sister. But maybe it's not really that
way….but maybe it is. Who knows for sure what and why people do
what they do.
Upon arrival at the FOB, the STP medical folks all rushed to the
helicopter and began doing what they do best. I was allowed to come
into the make-shift hospital and take photos of others doing what they
do best. It had been cleared by the Sr. Chief who ran it up his chain of
command. I was patient for a day and a half and word came down that I
could be present and take photos. Always best to clear it first if one
wants to stay here for an extended length of time. That's the way things
are in this war and one just has to accept it. Such is life. No worries.
Later that day I was told the young boy on the litter lost his leg just
below the knee due to an artery that had been damaged severely. His
life is now changed forever at the age of 12. I never saw him complain.
There is a lot of such things that go on in these parts. The children are
always the ones that seem to be the most innocent of victims especially
in this war. Probably the same in other wars. It's apparently what wars
It is now Tuesday evening. It is cold outside and windy. There will
probably be no more missions today with weather playing a major factor
in things. Still there is lots to take care of where I am. There are lots of
folks here waiting to tell their story to me now. Many have begun
reading the website and informing their families that there is this guy
from New Mexico documenting what's going on out here. All of the
folks here are thankful that someone is here telling their story. Many
are preparing to go home soon. It seems they all are eager to sit down
with me and tell me briefly about what they do. This is exactly why I
came to this place. To listen to my friends and neighbors tell me what
It is just what I do.
All photo’s and Website © 2012 JimSpiri.com, All Rights Reserved