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Life Outside the Wire

  • ‘Doc Fisher’

    One father told us he had a 1-month old baby with a pimple in its chest and was very sick because of this. My Corpsman, told the man to bring the baby to us. The man was gone for an hour.When we were done distributing the wheat, I told Fisher that we could not wait for the man to return with the baby because we had more villages to go to.

    As we were walking bacAnis 6 05.13.2010k to our trucks we noticed a car return to the village. Fisher checked to see if it was the man and baby. It was. I told Fisher to conduct a hasty assessment. He came back to me and told me that the baby did not have pimple in its chest, but rather, the condition was much worse and the baby had no more than 2 days to live. Fisher told me that the baby had a fist sized hematoma in its chest and that it was causing tension pneumothorax in its chest, and ultimately was not getting enough oxygen, due to a collapsed lung.

    In layman’s terms, there was a giant internal blood clot in the chest that was causing extreme pressure on the lungs, denying the baby to breath properly. The baby’s lips were purple, eyes were black, and was almost completely motionless. Breathing was labored, and the baby’s future looked grim.

    Anis 8 05.13.2010I called a priority air medevac to extract the baby and take it to a U.S. hospital over 100 miles away. As the helicopters were en-route to pick up the baby and father, a violent and sudden sandstorm appeared from the mountains in a manner of seconds. The sun had just set and visibility, even with night vision goggles, was less than 100 meters. Most helicopters would not be able to land in these conditions. At this point, I began to pray that a miracle would occur in the weather that would allow the helicopter to land. If the helicopter could not land, I would have no way of getting the baby to the hospital in time. The weather did not improve.

    The British air force pilots called me on the radio and said that they could not see my Landing Zone. The smoke that we usually would use to mark the LZ was invisible to them in this weather. My Marines emplaced Infrared Lights in the middle of LZ, and my drivers turned on their headlights. The helicopter was able to finally locate the LZ, despite the thick dust storm.

    Anis 7 05.13.2010The Pilots landed. Four Marines stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the baby and father, forming a human wall, as the dust from the helicopter raced towards them. A British female crew chief or nurse yelled to the Marines at the top of her lungs “Give me the Baby” They loaded the baby and her father into the helicopter, and they departed for the best hospital in Afghanistan. I believe that the only reason why the pilot decided to land in the adverse conditions was because they knew that they were picking up a baby that was in very bad shape.

    Anis 10 05.13.2010After they left, I explained to the family and village elder that the baby was on its way to the best hospital in Afghanistan, to be treated by the best doctors in the world. I told them that my Marines and I would be praying for the baby’s safety. They told me “In Sha Allah”, “God-Willing” the baby will be okay.¬†They then told me to drive home on a different route because they knew that the Taliban was currently emplacing an IED on the road that leads back to our base.

  • ‘Zepeda’

    The sun is scorching, the combat load is unforgiving and the days are beginning to melt together. You begin to force yourself to operate with even less sleep, food and water than you had the day before. Your gear and uniform tell a story of hellish terrain and weather because of the soil, sweat and blood stains ironed into it. The cleanliness of your weapon reminds you where you are and what you’re there to do, as these tools must perform surgically with only a muzzle flash’s notice.

    Your muscles cramp before you realize your sub consciously bracing yourself for one-hundred and twenty pounds of HME (home-made explosive), meticulously placed by the enemy to explode by the exact weight your vehicles tire exerts over a pressure plate detonator. You ease your grip and prepare for the worst.

  • Anonymous Marine

    We wake up early for another mission. As we put on our gear we make sure to check our water supply and our food rations. It will be another hot day here and usually we need more water than we can pack. As we patrol outside the safety of our camp and towards the small Afghan town, we notice any changes in the road along the way. Changes may indicate bombs placed in the ground and it seems like they are everywhere. As the day goes on the temperature seems to increase very fast. When we get into town we search a couple of compounds and talk with the Afghan people in order to find enemy personnel and weapons. During the hottest part of the day usually between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. we try to rest and keep out of the sunlight to avoid heat exhaustion. When we are moving again we are well hydrated and fed and usually seek a different route back. Mostly to avoid more bombs or ambushes the enemy most likely set up to attack us on our way back. As we get back we set up in our camp in our circle as we start our watch rotations for the night. The rest of us sleep for a couple of hours until we need to relieve those of us watching us sleep.

    Semper Fi

  • ‘Bass’

    Your day starts the night before, over-watch post to protect your brothers western flank as they sleep. The sun comes up with a rooster sounding reveille and a few pop-shots in the distance serve as a reality check as we head back to re-group. Catch a few hours of sleep, if possible, before the next foot patrol. What’s on your mind?….Eat, sleep and protect the guy next to you. You could care less about your own safety, as long as he makes it back alright. At the end of the day-if everyone is accounted for as we again head west- you did your job right.

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