Friday, July 3, 2009

What the Fourth Is All About

Since I'm on a roll this morning, I thought I would point you to this next story as a kind of counterweight to the previous post. This is a tale about the bravery of those who are fighting on our behalf to keep the independence that we all celebrate tomorrow --- those who are daily risking their lives so that all of us, yes, including those who are bringing you the media event "L.A. Night" at the Anaheim Arena next July 15, may live ours in freedom. I post the beginning of the story here, and give you a link to the rest at the bottom. The story includes a link to a video made of the event it depicts, which is not to be missed.

Spc. Channing Moss should be dead by all accounts. And those who saved his life did so knowing they might have died with him.

March 16, 2006. Southeastern Afghanistan. A fierce ambush and bloody firefight. It was over in a flash and Moss was left on the verge of death.

He was impaled through the abdomen with a rocket-propelled grenade, and an aluminum rod with one tail fin protruded from the left side of his torso.

His fellow soldiers worried: Could he blow up and take them with him? For all anyone knew, the answer was yes.

Still, over the course of the next couple of hours, his buddies, a helicopter crew and a medical team would risk their own lives to save his.

“Moss is an African-American and he’s gone to white. He’s in total shock from the loss of blood. But at the time, I really didn’t think about it. I knew [the RPG] was there but I thought, if we didn’t do it, if we didn’t get him out of there, he was going to die,” said flight medic Sgt. John Collier, 29, then a specialist.

“It was an extremely unusual set of events. He should have died three times that day,” said Maj. John Oh, 759th Forward Surgical Team general surgeon.

The 36-year-old’s surgical skill and command of his own nerves would be put to the ultimate test as, wearing helmet and body armor, he would operate to extract the ordnance from Moss’s booby-trapped body. One wrong move risked the lives of the patient, his own and those of the other members of the medical team.

He said the payoff was worth the gamble.

“For a soldier to be struck by an RPG and be flown and have surgery and survive … it’s unheard of,” said Oh. “It was a pretty remarkable experience.”

Read the rest of the story here. A tip o' th' Rumpolean bowler to Yiddish Steel at Six Meat Buffet, who spells out just why this story is so unusual, but at the same time so typical --- of the Marines, that is:

To Hell With Protocol.

War Heroes. This is the account of PVT Channing Moss, who was impaled by a live RPG during a Taliban ambush while on patrol. Army protocol says that medevac choppers are never to carry anyone with a live round in him. Even though they feared it could explode, the flight crew said damn the protocol and flew him to the nearest aid station. Again, protocol said that in such a case the patient is to be put in a sandbagged area away from the surgical unit, given a shot of morphine and left to wait (and die) until others are treated. Again, the medical team ignored the protocol. Here’s a seven-minute video put together by the Military Times, which includes actual footage of the surgery where Dr. John Oh, a Korean immigrant who became a naturalized citizen and went to West Point, removed the live round with the help of volunteers and a member of the EOD (explosive ordinance disposal) team. Channing Moss has undergone six operations but is doing well at home in Gainesville, GA. To me, this is one of the most amazing stories of Military Battlefield and Operating Room Courage I’ve ever heard.

I think you’ll find the video pretty remarkable.

It makes me proud to be American knowing that there are people like Pfc Channing Moss, Major John Oh, and Staff Sargent Matt Brown serving our country and protecting what we often take for granted every day.
I second that, Yiddish Steel. Thanks for bringing this to our attention --- watching the video and reading the story as we prepare to celebrate the Fourth will help us to remember what this country is all about, and perhaps to take it that much less for granted.

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