Friday, February 03, 2006

Camp Casey Flashback

I was standing next to this guy at the time. Wasn't this week 2? He was so totally freaked out. He started out by saying, they are flying low to scare us because they know it will bother us, alot. And the helicopters flew lower and lower...drowning out Cindy Sheehan and Ray McGovern....and the Vietnam Vets, the guys who found water for us on the first day in Crawford when the police would not let us go back to our cars....they suffered....when the Secret Service drove by close to my feet and said, "Someone could get hurt." Our Vietnam Vets and our Iraq and Afghanistan Vets deserve much better than they are getting.

Camp Casey Flashback
By Peter Dudar
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Friday 03 February 2006

The Texas heat was blistering in a Crawford roadside ditch at "Camp Casey." 800 people had just arrived from all over America to support Cindy Sheehan, mother of fallen Iraq War hero Casey Sheehan, who died saving his buddies. During the President's five-week vacation in time of war, he could not find the time to meet with Cindy, who waited daily down in the ditch for a month.

The 100-degree heat was just beginning to loosen its vice-grip on Prairie Chapel Road, a few miles from the Commander in Chief's plantation. At about 5:00 p.m., one of our Veterans For Peace, a Medic, was responding to comments coming from the pro-war supporters across the street when, suddenly, a Secret Service helicopter circled down to only 90 feet above us. For the next hour, this honored Medic experienced a "flashback" triggered by the whirling chopper blades. It took four strong Vets to hold and calm him.

The Medic couldn't see us, although his eyes were open. He looked past us as if he were watching a horror movie in his mind. He felt he was back in the war, disconnected from us in a journey into the Twilight Zone. In his mind, he had returned to a helicopter with a Red Cross emblem and a name his buddies had painted on the chopper, "WHY?" The Medic's mouth foamed, his head tossed wildly. He wept and moaned:

"How can they shout and yell out lies with such venom? The Liars never go to war! Oh, how is it that the Liars never go? They're accusing me of being 'Un-Patriotic?!' 'Un-American?!' But they weren't in war! I saw the death, man, I saw the killing!! The Liars convince us to have a war but they never go to war! Man, I can see the dead soldiers all around me! I can see them! They're here with us!"

His eyes widened, as he looked right through us in great pain and sorrow.

"We tried to save our young men's lives ... we flew in for them but again and again we lost them. Oh, but the ones sending them to war never see the dying, man. I was there, and the people across the street in support of the war are calling me a 'Traitor?!' The Liars never go! I can feel all the pain of our dying soldiers ..."

His head was tossing to and fro. His mouth foamed even more. Then, a Veteran urgently tried to calm him as four of us held the Medic's hands and shoulders and supplied ice and water.

The Veteran must have had experience with this before. He kept calmly telling the people crowding around to "give him some room, give him breathing room, and let's keep the ice coming ..." The Medic continued: "The Liars are the most dangerous! Where were they when I saw the suicides? There were so many young guys that just couldn't take what they'd seen and done, man. Where were the Liars when I walked into my buddy's tent and he had a gun to his head, man, a rifle. This huge gun. He held it right here like this between his eyes and before I could say anything ... he pulled the trigger!!"

"Some sound, man! I'll never forget that sound ... like a cannon. Oh, it blew out the whole back of his head!" Full of sorrow, the Medic gestured with his shaking hands to show how much of his friend's head was missing - all behind the ears ... gone.

"I saw his brains go flying ... I was covered with blood, man, his brains were on my hands!!" The Medic wiped his hands nervously. "Oh, who are these people across the street who cheer for war and never see it, never smell it?!"

The Medic's eyes would roll up occasionally. The Veteran gently, fervently, wiped the Medic's face, clearing away the foam from his mouth. The Veteran kept the ice moving quickly around the top and sides of the Medic's head, neck, and chest, saying, "Stay with us now, c'mon man, c'mon now, we're here for you bro, look at me, open your eyes, stay with us, we need you, man."

The Veteran kept circling the ice around the Medic's face. A number of times, the Veteran almost burst into tears over the condition of this Medic breaking down. Somehow, the Veteran held back. The Medic began crying,

"I wish my Mama were here!! I wish my Mama were here! Oh Mama, why can't I see you? Where are you? Mama!!" We got goose bumps.

The Veteran drew a very serious expression of concern like, "Uh, oh. Now we're in deep," and he quickly stepped up the dispersion of the ice pack around the Medic's face, chest, and shoulders, trickling more ice water on his head. The Medic's mind was on the precipice between life and death. Many soldiers cry "Mama!" before they die. But this could be a "mental death" from which the mind of the Medic didn't return. Working in field medicine, how often had the Medic heard these cries for "Mama?" The Veteran urgently said,

"Let it out bro! Come on, we're here for you; let it all out, man, it's okay. Dude, we're all here with you!"

The Medic kept swinging his head back and forth. The attending Veteran knew he had to try to engage the Medic's mind (although his own eyes were brimming with tears). He held the Medic's hand and said, "Bro, you've got 3 or 4 Purple Hearts, man, and a Silver Star. Hey bro, maybe if you shared some of your medals with ALL those guys across the street, you'd still have two Purple Hearts and a Silver Star left!"

The Medic sobbed, "Oh man, do you know I've been through 25 therapists? 25 therapists, Man! Oh, when's it gonna end? Where's Mama? I can see all of the dead soldiers around me! The dead soldiers are here with us."

The Veteran held the Medic's face in his hands and looked deep into his eyes,

You gave your all to save your men, you did EVERYTHING you could and beyond, man ... you were there for them! You were in the Battle Zone for your boys, and we're here for you now ... stay with us, you've got a lot more to do HERE before you go, bro ... stay with us and tell us all about it, let it all out.
The Medic slowly opened his eyes filled with tears and looked at the Veteran.

"You're a 'southern boy' aren't ya? You're so kind to me!" He cried, "Thank you, man!" He looked all around, "You're all too kind to me, I thank you all for being here."

The Medic's mind, like a journey through time, had slowly returned to him from the flashback. He continued with calm recollection,

"We had a young soldier who'd been hit by a bullet in the stomach. He was a young black soldier, and I'll never forget him. Never. He was hanging onto life when we began to Medi-Vac him out. We had to wait for him to stabilize before we could transport him. Finally, we got flying. We were in the air en route to the field hospital when his condition took a turn for the worse. The hospital was too far, so we quickly flew back to try and stabilize him. But on the way back ... we lost him. He died in the chopper. 19, he was just 19 years old. I'll never forget him ... I'll never forget him ..."

The whole episode had been triggered by the sound of a low flying helicopter ...


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