"How are things going?" I asked.
He's now a surgeon working at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital in the Washington DC area and a longtime friend. We met for dinner with our wives on a recent trip to Bethesda Maryland.
"Fine. Been repairing holes in people," he said with a smile.
You have to know him to understand that he's not being disrespectful or cute, just honest. He spent over 25 years in the Army, then moved to private surgery practice out west, then felt the pull of the military medicine for which he'd trained and worked in those many years. Now he's back at the place where he started.
He moved his fork over his dinner, not picking up the food. "Had a case the other day, Army helo pilot, took a round in the leg and face, just missed his eye and brain. Managed to land the copter and save his buddies too in spite of the wounds."
I waited, not wanting to interrupt.
"This young man came to us, so we fixed him up." He ate a small bite.
"And?" I asked.
"He's fine now, I repaired the leg and took some of the bone to make a new jaw, almost a perfect fit." He sat back, thinking over the procedures.
"How long was this procedure?"
"'Bout 14 hours, seven for the leg and another seven for the jaw. Took a five minute break at the halfway mark."
On this Independence Day, I remember the sacrifice of the young man that my friend saved, and that I was talking to another hero, a man who saves other heroes, or as he said, is "repairing holes" in them.
Stepping Stones - I salute your surgeon friend for all that he does. Having visited our battle-wounded a couple of times (and will again in a couple of weeks) at WRAMC, I'll tell you there is no more humbling, yet inspiring experience to see these great men and women enduring the worst of war in such heroic fashion. They are great patriots, and so is your friend. Please pass my thanks to him.
Thanks NUHusker--we all salute those who keep us free-and these are the bravest of the brave. My friend, a humble man but brilliant surgeon, sees it as an honor to be able to repair and replace their "parts" as he calls them. Their spirit remains whole, as you know from visiting them.