Monday, 30 July 2007

Week 26--A Look Back.

As we pass the midpoint of this 12-month tour, it seems like a good time to look back on where we came from and what we’ve experienced in the last six months.

In January the 396th CSH (FWD) left Camp Atterbury, IN enroute to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom VIII. After three months at Camp Atterbury our journey took us by bus to Pope AFB, then by air to Bucarest, Romania, Manas Airbase and finally Bagram Airbase before we separated to our three locations in Afghanistan.

The flight was an adventure, with a three day layover in Romania due to bad weather at Manas AB.

By the time we arrived at FOB Salerno we were tired and disoriented but ready to get started on our new adventure. In just one week we completed the right seat/left seat ride with the 14th CSH and we were ready for the change of command and transition of authority (RIP/TOA).
Finally, we were running the hospital!

Unfortunately, the honeymoon did not last long, as a suicide bomber hit the front gate of the FOB the same day the 14th CSH personnel departed.

We did well, but it was a bit overwhelming dealing with so many casualties, both dead and dying, on our very first day. It was a rude introduction to life in Afghanistan, particularly for our first-time deployers.

At the same time we were learning our jobs, we were meeting our USAF partners. The USAF medical personnel rotate every 120 days, so we will have the opportunity to meet and work with four different groups of USAF medical professionals.

And besides our core missions of patient care in the Emergency Room, Operating Room, Intensive Care Ward, Pharmacy, Laboratory, X-Ray, Medical Supply and Hospital Headquarters we had to learn other new skills.

Very soon we learned how to work with MEDEVAC aircraft, both sending and receiving patients, and with USAF Air Evacuation aircraft, usually C-130s. It would have been nice to practice some of these skills at the mobilization station, instead of waiting until we were here, in Afghanistan, dealing with real, live patients!

And there were other new experiences, like flying in UH-60s over the Afghan countryside. Flying in 20th Century aircraft over mud homes and ancient farmlands is quite a contrast.

Over time, all these things have become routine. We can hardly remember Camp Atterbury, but we will be glad to get back there on our way home. We receive casualties almost every day now, some with terrible injuries, but that too has become routine. We evacuate patients on fixed wing and rotary aircraft weekly, if not daily. We jump in UH-60s or STOL aircraft or C-130s like they are taxis or buses, without a second thought. We look forward to the next change of command and RIP//TOA since that will be our ticket home. We’ve become used to transitions and turbulence since our USAF personnel rotate every 120 days, our USAR surgeon and CRNA rotate every 90 days and our 365-day Soldiers are always leaving on or returning from R&R.

Finally, we are looking forward to seeing the clear, cold days of winter and the snow on the distant mountains. Summer here is hazy, so the distant mountains are rarely visible.
The clear views will indicate our imminent departure, our return home and our reunion with our families and friends.

As always, thanks for reading this blog, praying for us and supporting your troops.

Phillips, out.


mikentexas said...

Thanks for the quick look back. I hope you are archiving these somewhere so you can look back on this experience sometime in the future.
Wecontinually pray for your success in the hospital and the safety of your Soldiers.


Rich - what a moving and touching look back at what you and your team has gone through... as always, you are in our prayers and thoughts! God Bless you and your team, may you be lifted up. You are truly an inspiration and such a blessing to all who reads your stories. Thank you for sharing with all of us! Looking forward to reading more and being able to share! Sherri

David M said...

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 07/31/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

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