Recovery of a Hero
I was in Bagdad escorting a civilian computer expert with 3 others from my squad when this story begins. He was a Department of the Navy employee sent to Iraq to assist in setting up computer networks for the new Iraqi government and we were assigned to protect him while he traveled around the city installing computer systems.
While we were driving to one of the government buildings where he was working, we were ambushed by a large number of insurgent fighters.
The first warning I had that something was wrong was when an explosion beside our Humvee lifted the vehicle of the road on that side and then we dropped back down.
I immediately new that something was wrong with the Humvee as the passenger side of the vehicle sagged down like the tires were completely gone.
I shouted to the others to get out and get the civilian to cover while I used the machine gun on top to cover them.
Pvt. Jenkins grabbed him and pulled him out of the Humvee and Cpl. Samson grabbed Pvt. Tims from the front of the rig and dragged him to an alley where they had some cover from incoming fire. I started firing at the approaching enemy group that was approaching us.
There was another explosion in the front of the Humvee and I fell out of the hatch into the vehicle. I crawled out the open door toward my comrades but was hit in both legs by enemy fire.
Since I was unable to move fast enough to get to shelter, I stayed next to the Humvee. I suddenly started to feel the pain from my injuries and knew I was hurt bad but there was nothing I could do about it. I was surprised when I saw the civilian, whose name was DeShade or something like that, got up and ran toward me. I heard several automatic weapons open up as he rushed to me, but he wasn't hit.
Jenkins and Samson returned fire as DeShade grabbed me and started dragging me to the others. I heard the unmistakable sound of bullets hitting meat and DeShade staggered but kept dragging me to shelter.
When we got to the alley, I saw that Tims was wounded and so was Samson. That explained why they hadn't come for me themselves, but I wondered about Jenkins.
That was when I lost consciousness and didn't wake up until after we had been rescued by a patrol and taken back to the hospital at the main base in Bagdad.
When I regained consciousness, I felt light headed. There was a nurse taking my blood pressure, I saw, when my vision cleared. I tried to ask about the others, but could barely croak.
The nurse finished what she was doing and held up a glass with a straw in it so I could take a drink. After the drink, I tried again and this time was able to speak although not loudly. I asked about my men and the civilian.
She said that my men were all alive and that the 2 who had been wounded were doing well.
I then asked about the man who had saved my life and she said that he was still unconscious. He had been hit twice, once in the side, and once in the back.
The flack vest he had been wearing had stopped the first round, but the second had gone through the arm hole on the right side of the vest and entered under his collar bone and gone completely through, exiting in front and then hitting the vest on the inside and traveling down and lodging in his left hip.
He had lost a lot of blood although he was expected to live.
I told her to keep me updated as this man had dragged me away from our disabled vehicle to safety while the others covered for us. She agreed and left the ward.
I looked around and saw that I was in a large room with several other patients.
The lights were dim and from where I was, I could see a window with a dark curtain. I didn't know if it was day or night or even what day it was.
The time was irrelevant to me now, so I allowed myself to drift away to sleep.
As the days passed and I slowly recovered my strength, I visited the other members of my squad who had been wounded and also stopped by to see Eldarin, as I later learned was his name. Eldarin DeShade.
He was to be shipped back to the States soon and transferred to a long term care facility. That is when I vowed to contact my wife and get her to keep track of him so that I could get him out of there as soon as I got home, myself.
I owed this man my life and I fully intended to repay that debt as best as I could.
When I called Janice and told her about Eldarin, she agreed that we owed him and that he wouldn't have to remain in a place where he had no friends.
I was happy that there would be no problems from her and asked her what her sisters thought.
She told me, "Sally is thrilled to help the man who saved her only brother and Erica said it's all right with her too." This was a big relief to me as I had been worried about that.
Janice and her sisters lost their parents about 6 months before we married, and since Sally was only 10 and Erica 15, we raised them ourselves.
It was hard at times to try to raise 2 girls who were less than 10 years younger than me and my sister-in-laws at that, but we managed until my unit was called up for duty in Iraq.
Since they had a good inheritance, and I had just started receiving an annuity from my grandparents' estate, we were doing ok on money. Janice and her sisters had inherited a nice house on 3 acres of land.
All of this made it easy for us, and although we really didn't have to work, Janice got a degree in Nursing and I got my bachelors degree in Computer Sciences.
She did volunteer work at the local hospital and I was a repair technician for a large computer manufacturer.
When I was called up, my boss told me that my job would be waiting when I came back and I wouldn't lose seniority either.
All this made it easy to keep the promise I had made to myself that the person who had saved my life would never have needs or wants ever again.
With the help of my wife and 2 sister-in-laws, he wouldn't be alone or in need until he was able to return home again.