Saturday, July 02, 2005

Michael Yon continues

Part IV is up today.
If you are new to Michael Yon, and want to follow a narrative, take time to read I, II, and III first. If not, each part can stand alone as some of the best journalism being done about the war. Pretty gritty, sometimes. This is the real deal.

The doctors, nurses and other staff seem pleased to see Mellinger and eager to start guiding us to the patients. Our first stop is by the room of an American soldier. He's got a bad thigh wound, –fragged by an IED–but he's sedated, breathing through a tube. CSM Mellinger asks questions about his condition. Apparently, the frag barely missed his right femoral. The soldier is lying there, unconscious and shirtless. He's got a dog tag tattooed over his right ribs that tell his blood type, social, and that he's Catholic. The CSM puts his hand on the patient's shoulder and quietly says something to him, and then we head to a nearby room.

There are three Iraqi patients in this room: two men and a woman. One of the men is a wounded Iraqi policeman. The woman is young, perhaps in her twenties, and she's lost both legs to an IED. The other man has a stomach wound that is stinking up the room.
The man sucked a labored gasp, followed by erratic puffs and pants, before his breathing settled again. His mouth hanging agape, showed jagged teeth. This dreg was probably hired for a few beans to plant a bomb in the road, or perhaps he met a man in a mosque selling martyrdom as the fast track to Heaven. But he looked too old, poor and weathered to muster much excitement about virgins in Heaven. Judging from the looks of his jagged teeth and craggy face, his slim belly and leathered feet, this man was no officer in Saddam's military machine. His grasp of politics probably did not exceed the reach of his scrawny arms.
He was a pitiful beast with no business recovering in the same room as that innocent little girl with thescorched face and charred hands. But it's all about the rules and laws, made perhaps by people sitting at long shiny tables beneath crystal domes, far far away. One thing is certain, soldiers at war didn't make the rule that put the perpetrator of a crime in the same room as a young victim.

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