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Old 12-30-2004, 02:31 PM   #1
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"Improved armor, care keep wounded troops alive"

Improved armor, care keep wounded troops alive

By Charles Crain, Special for USA TODAY

Army Capt. Eric Johnson didn't realize how badly he was wounded until his fellow soldiers started urging him to hold on to consciousness. "They were like, 'Stay with us, man,' " Johnson said. "You don't want to hear that."



Johnson, 33, of Bristol, Wis., had arrived in Baghdad on March 26 with the rest of the 1-7 Cav - the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. Then a lieutenant in charge of the squadron's reconnaissance platoon, he oversaw sniper operations and led raids against Iraqi insurgents.


On the night of April 18, Johnson took a team of four snipers into an abandoned building near the Baghdad airport. He was manning a sniper rifle when he saw cars pull up about 300 yards away.


Moments after calling for backup, he was hit with two bursts of machine-gun fire. That night, Johnson became one of the nearly 10,000 U.S. servicemembers who have been wounded in Iraq (news - web sites). Thanks to better body armor and faster and more sophisticated medical care, more than twice as many wounded soldiers are surviving in Iraq than in previous conflicts. More than half return to duty within 72 hours.


Johnson is among those who redeployed. But due to his injuries, he couldn't return for six months.


Back in Iraq since October, he recently recalled his injuries matter-of-factly. In shock after being hit, he did not immediately realize how seriously he was wounded.


"So this is what it's like to get shot," he remembered thinking. "It's kind of like getting clipped by a football real hard, real fast," the former high school tackle said.


Johnson managed to crawl back to his comrades. He was evacuated to medical facilities in Baghdad's Green Zone and was in surgery about 21/2 hours after being shot.


It wasn't until his body armor was removed that the extent of his injuries became clear. As soon as the armor was off, his lung, punctured by a bullet, collapsed. He lost two liters of blood. The humerus bone in his arm was shattered. A bullet had hit his spine.


Johnson was flown to Landstuhl, Germany, for more treatment as soon as he was stable. "When I saw some of the guys in Germany who were hurt bad, I realized I was in pretty good shape," said Johnson, who was able to walk and talk, unlike some soldiers who had suffered serious head injuries or lost limbs.


Less than two weeks after being shot, Johnson was back at Fort Hood in Texas. He was happy to be home with his wife, but Johnson said he took being back in the USA hard. "That's when you feel the most alone," he said. "All your buddies are back (in Iraq)."


Johnson's doctor told him not to focus on returning to Iraq. But Johnson, who spent 10 years as an enlisted man before becoming an officer, was determined.


After completing physical therapy, Johnson was cleared to return. Promoted to captain, he went back to Baghdad in late October.


The major hurdle was making it through his first firefight. "The first gunfight I was in once I'd been back was a little traumatic," he said.


But since that incident, he hasn't looked back. "Physically, I'm not as strong as I was," he said. "Mentally, though, I'm way stronger. ... At this point, there's very little I'm afraid of anymore."




http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmp...dedtroopsalive
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Old 12-30-2004, 03:19 PM   #2
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I salute all of them
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Old 12-30-2004, 03:35 PM   #3
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Military hospitals will be overflowing with men who will need constant care for the rest of their lives, having lost what most of us would deem necessary for living. Is surviving horrific injury always the right thing?
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Old 12-30-2004, 10:15 PM   #4
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More than half of the 10,000 troops who have been wounded in Iraq were returned to full duty in less than 72 hours! Others like Johnson took much longer, several weeks or several months. It is true that some will be dealing with their injuries for the rest of their lives. Some of them have lost limbs, yet that has not stopped many of them from volunteering for another tour of duty in Iraq!

On U2's new album, there is a song called "Miracle Drug" about an amazing person named Chris Nolan. Many people told Chris Nolan's mom many negative things about the future for her son. But she never lost her faith and it is amazing what Chris has done despite his difficulties.

What these wounded soldiers and Chris teach us about life is that what ever the magnitude of the problem, the best way to face it is to dig in and take it on! It is simply amazing what the spirit can do despite the odds and these people have proven that!
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Old 12-31-2004, 06:05 PM   #5
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I'm glad that some of the wounded are easily put back together. I'm talking about the soldiers who are missing most of their limbs or their faces. What kind of life have they got to look forward to?
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Old 01-02-2005, 07:15 AM   #6
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And there is no armouring against mental damage. I think that will be a big problem after the party in Iraq.
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