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    Selfless service saves lives

    Selfless Service Saves Lives

    Photo By Sgt. Shantelle Campbell | Doctors and medics at the 47th Combat Support Hospital on Contingency Operating Base...... read more read more

    TIKRIT, Iraq — Former Soldier and author, William Arthur Ward once said that, "Every person has the power to make others happy." He said that "Some leave trails of cynicism and pessimism; others, trails of faith and optimism. Some leave trails of criticism and resignation; others, trails of gratitude and hope," then he asked, "What kind of trails do you leave?"

    The trails created in Iraq have led to a change that has fostered a long lasting partnership and friendship between the Iraqi and American military forces.

    Five Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, Kan., chose the trail they would leave behind as their selfless service helped save the lives of their Iraqi counterparts, who they also consider close friends.

    On the evening of Dec. 3, a bomb exploded in the city of Tikrit, killing Iraqi Lt. Col. Ahmed Subhi Al Fahal, commander of the riot dispersion unit in the area, and three members of his security detachment. Several others were wounded in the explosion.

    The Iraqi army responded immediately. Soldiers of 2-32 FAR's Quick Reaction Force were on stand-by to assist, but the only assistance requested by the Iraqi army, was for medical aid to the casualties.

    Seven of the wounded Iraqis were taken to the 47th Combat Support Hospital on Contingency Operating Base Speicher. As doctors fought feverishly to save their patients another threat faced them, the blood supply in the hospital began to run low, and that's when the 2-32 FAR Soldiers reacted.

    "When we heard that it was our [Iraqi personal security detachment] counterparts," said Pfc. Christian Vasquez of Miami, Fla., and a field artillery meteorological crewmember with HHB, 2-32 FAR. "We just decided to jump and volunteer because they're our guys. They've always had our backs when we were out there."

    Pfc. Philip A. Gertzel of Orlando, Fla., and a supply specialist with HHB, 2-32 FAR said that even though he didn't personally know the Iraqi PSD personnel who were injured, he still wanted to help.

    "Blood isn't typed on who hates who or who likes who," said Gertzel. "It's only based on blood. So, my blood is as good as anybody else's so, [I said] use mine."

    The selflessness and urgency to help someone is something that these five young "Proud Americans" say just came naturally.

    For Pfc. Gerald Paige of Phildelphia, Pa., and a cannon crewmember with HHB, 2-32 FAR the incident wasn't something that changed him but says it did "redefine" who he is as a person.

    "I'm the same person because I would have done it before, but seeing some of my friends get hurt — something just took over," said Paige.

    "When you actually see firsthand what some people will do to others," said Spc. Ross L. Sedgwick of San Diego, Calif., and a signal support systems specialist with HHB, 2-32 FAR, "it will change your opinions on what you will do to make a difference — completely."

    The Soldiers said they wish they could do more to help, but they also hope that their actions will continue to inspire change.

    "I just hope that people realize that it doesn't take years to know who someone is because I consider everyone that I've met my friends and some my family," said Gertzel. "These people never leave my thoughts, and I hope that it makes an impact on this country. I didn't even know the [Iraqi] PSD personally, but I still [went] out to help because I knew one person [could] make a difference but a thousand people can make a change."



    Date Taken: 12.03.2009
    Date Posted: 12.10.2009 12:54
    Story ID: 42565
    Location: TIKRIT, IQ 

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