Van Doren


I have this recurring nightmare, again and again:

Even though we were scheduled to be “2nd Up” we’ve flown into the same hot LZ again and again today, under fire, to rescue the wounded – a dozen at a time. On our 5th mission this day, 11 Nov 65, I recognize the soldier I’m loading. God, no! It’s the medic who’s been bringing me his wounded – again and again – all throughout the battle!

[Infantry soldiers are trained to seek out whatever cover or concealment they can find, but when the ground medic hears “Doc, I’m hit!” he will rush toward the enemy guns to rescue his wounded buddy. Under fire! Without hesitation! Again and again!]

We’ve loaded everyone we can cram onto the Huey and lift off; now I can triage my patients. God, no! The medic’s gut-shot, and I can’t save him! I have other wounded aboard I can try to keep alive until we get them to the field hospital; maybe the Chaplain can help those I can’t.

Then I wake up again, in a hot sweat again, and apologize again to my wife for kicking her out of bed with my thrashing – again. My war is long over, we remember, and I go back to sleep.

But it’s not over. Now I’m being deployed to Iraq, again. I’ve lost more buddies than I’ve saved, so I’ve stopped counting. I don’t know if I can keep any of them alive anymore; I know I can’t keep them from being wounded, and that drives a cold stake through my heart. But I have to go – again and again – not because I still believe in the mission, but because they will need me – again and again.

God, no!

Then I wake up again, but this time I can’t go back to bed. After half a pot of coffee I realize the second nightmare is not mine – It’s that of the medics I may never know who have been deployed to Iraq – again and again!

But I DO know them, and their buddies – and so do you. God, no!