Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Our far-flung correspndents

From my USMC bud in Afghanistan:
Things the military is good at
If you get wounded in battle, the military will pull out all the stops to get you into surgery in minutes. There are helicopters all over the place waiting to take off (actually, they are Army Blackhawks just down the row from here) and take you to surgeons who are standing by. Yes, this is extremely costly, as the helicopters and surgeons have very low utilization. But at least the Marines in the field really are confident that if something happens, they won’t bleed to death waiting for help.

When the worst does happen, you would be amazed at the reverence and sensitivity with which this is handled. It starts immediately at the scene, proceeds through solemn transfer ceremonies here at Leatherneck (where the deceased are moved to larger planes), and continues to Dover and through final burial. I once recommended the HBO movie Taking Chance, which portrays all of this very accurately.

[Above] is a memorial to SSgt James Cawley, F 2/23, killed in action in the vicinity of Al Fajr, Iraq, in March 2003.

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