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A Veteran's Day tale of courage


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From an E-9 Marine Brother of mine -

My outfit was pulled back into a big base camp for some rest, resupply and refit. Which one doesn't matter. I was a corporal at the time, a squad leader. The senior squad leader of my platoon so I had a few extra responsibilities to go with my exalted status. We scrounged a truck to go to supply to get a bunch of stuff we needed, the Helo LZ for the mail and our Corpsman, Doc Steve wanted to beg, borrow or steal some gear that he wasn't supposed to know how to use from the tent hospital they had. I was going along to either help carry the stuff or create a diversion if talking wouldn't work.

Anyway while we were getting the mail, next stop the hospital, a Helo came in with a brand new nurse on board. Since we were going to the body and fender shop anyway we gave her a ride. She was so brand new her butter bar was still shiny and her utilities not only hadn't faded but the red dust hadn't even ground into the fabric. As luck would have it the admin. tent where she had to check in was right next to the supply shack where Doc Steve was working his nefarious plot. Oh, did I mention that the nurse was no bigger than a minute and cute as a bug? Impossibly young, too, though as a college graduate probably a little older than me, chronologically.

While we were there the bad guys launched a rocket attack, a big one. Since Doc and I had no assignment there we followed all the clerks, I thought we were running for a bunker. That cute little nurse was running right alongside of us. Her helmet and vest were way too big. Well, if I'd known where we were running I'd have followed some other crowd, we didn't go to a bunker, instead to the surgical tent. Most everybody in the crowd started taking wounded to the bunkers but there was some fairly major surgery going on, I think the docs were working on a sucking chest wound but I wasn't looking that close. Anyway, the surgeon couldn't stop, there was no way to move to a bunker. This crowd of supply clerks, admin clerks, that cute little nurse and mama's idiot son and Doc Steve, all of us in helmets and vests just crowded around that operating table and surgical team so as to stop any flying scrap metal, hopefully with our vests.

The rockets were coming down all over, I was as scared as I'd ever been but too damned scared of what folks would say if I left Doc Steve to do anything sensible like find a hole and I looked over at that little nurse. She didn't know anyone there, she'd never heard a shot fired in anger, nobody would tell her what was going on, just to stand there wearing a helmet and vest so the surgeons could work.

A rocket hit fairly close, close enough to have some shrapnel come through the tent and she lost it. Sort of. She stood there. She didn't say a word, she just started crying, quietly. Another rocket hit, closer. A piece of scrap metal clanged off her helmet. Proving she was smart enough to have graduated she did what anyone else would do, she peed. I would have too, except I just had.

The bravest person I ever saw, that tiny little girl. She stood there, tears running down her face and urine running down her legs, standing there to stop shrapnel meant for someone she'd never met. She stood there until it was all over. Then she cleaned up and reported in.

It wasn't just her standing there, EVERY ONE of those clerks, the ones we all called REMFs, stood there, shoulder to shoulder, three deep. They did it for a stranger on an operating table. They stood there, holding extra flak vests, with nothing to shoot back at, or with. They just stood there. Stood there for a stranger.

For all Americans - Have a superb Veteran's Day -

Semper Fi


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