The worst wounded soldier that I ever met had been walking across a rice paddy in Vietnam when a bullet severed his spine. Right across the back of his neck. Had it missed him by an inch he would have been just fine. Maybe even less than an inch.
Had he fallen forward he would have drowned. Instead he fell backwards and survived. He was 19 years old. I remember thinking if he wondered, “Just what the hell happened to me?”
This talking head spent the next 30 years lying on back in his parent’s home, being turned like a hamburger patty to prevent bedsores, before he died of pneumonia in a VA hospital at age 49.
Speaking of VA hospitals, I have been to them several times. I saw several guys there paralyzed from the waist down in Vietnam, out in the sunshine in their wheelchairs and on stretchers – and younger ones from Iraq and Afghanistan. I never saw the men hidden in the back wards (one of my friend’s mother used to visit them and he told me what she told him) – some of them didn’t have faces and some no arms and legs (these used to be called “basket cases”). I can’t imagine being a nurse in a place like that. How can anyone get used to something like that?
Amazing – sort of – what advanced combat medicine can do these days. Used to be, other soldiers would shoot other horribly wounded soldiers and put them out of their misery. How’s that for a permanent memory? – shooting another soldier because you can’t get any treatment for him. Not that in many cases treatment would have done any good.
The worst wounded soldier I read about from Iraq was a 19-year-old who was shot point-blank head in the back of the head by an Iraqi soldier – one of those “allies” that the stupid are protesting should be let into the country. He ended up paralyzed from the neck down, blind, and unable to talk. He can hear just fine, though. If he still alive he’s spending his “life” in his bedroom in his parents’ home.
It was about 10 years ago I read about him.
I once saw of picture of Denzel Washington, with a look of great compassion on his face, talking to a woman (I could tell it was a woman because of her long blonde wig) whose face was a mass of burned tissue – from her service in either Afghanistan or Iraq. I remember thinking, “There goes marriage, husband, children, family, happiness.”
Chickenhawk cowards say these guys “made the ultimate sacrifice.” But it apparently doesn’t occur to them these guys have parents and wives and friends and children that have to spend the rest of their lives with these tragedies.
Such tragedies aren’t linear. They spread out like a concrete block thrown in a pond. That’s why they affect so many people.
If I had the ability I’d have all the Chickenhawks switch places with these wounded soldiers so they would be whole again (too bad it can’t be 100,000 made whole for one coward). Then the Chickenhawks can make “the ultimate sacrifice.” I’d have them switch places with Dubya Shrub, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle – none of whom volunteered for Vietnam even though they were the perfect ages to serve. They were plenty good at starting unnecessary wars, though.
Of course none of them would agree to this switch. Others are supposed to be horribly wounded and have no life to speak of – not these arrogant cowards.
There are a lot worse things than merely dying.