Hope Arrives Wearing ACU’s
June 28, 2007
The children in Iraq and Afghanistan are the innocent victims of terrorism and groups such as al-Qaeda. The children, because they’re too young or weak to properly defend themselves against such evil, many times suffer the worse of all. Sometimes, these evil people deliberately target the young and the weak, because they know that they’ll be unable to “fight back” and defend themselves. Though this young boy wasn’t targeted by a terrorist group, due to injuries he received, he would have most certainly lost his leg, if it weren’t for two angels of hope, who arrived wearing ACU’s. The boy was injured when his family attended a wedding several months ago, when he was struck by at least two bullets from celebratory gunfire. When he was taken to a local doctor, a metal brace was screwed into his leg in four locations. Due to the fact that medical care isn’t always available in Iraq, or what is available isn’t the best, except in areas where Coalition Forces have rebuilt hospitals and clinics, the boys father had pretty much resigned himself to the fact that his son would lose his leg.
(US Army photo by Spc. Mike Alberts)
While on a routine patrol, Sgt Donald Campbell and Capt. Geoffrey Dutton, with 1st Platoon, Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 35th Inantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat team, spotted someone who appeared to be doing surveillance on the platoon’s activities. Upon investigation, they found a 9 year old boy with a severe injury to his leg.
“During the search of a house, I noticed a little boy,” said Campbell. “His leg was all bent up and it looked like he had a pipe wrapped t it,” he continued. “My immediate instinct was to rewrap it and change the splint for him because it looked uncomfortable. When I removed the wrap, I noticed that the pipe was actually a metal bar that was scrwed into the lower part of the boy’s leg beow the knee. What concerned me most though was the obvious infection.”
“I cleaned the leg the best I could, gave the family extra field dressings, iodine, alcohol and instructions on how to take car of the infection,” said Campbell who wouldmeet with the family on more than 2 dozen occasions to check on boy’s status.
Each time he checked on the boy, his leg appeared to be getting worse. The family was doing the right things, but the infection appeared to be getting worse. That’s when Campbell decided to contact brigade civil affairs.
“Based on what Sgt. Campbell told me and from what I saw of the photos and
x-rays, my biggest concern was that the infection was systemic, whch could be a life-threatening situation,” said Capt. Geoffrey Dutton, a civil affairs officer with the 425th Civil Affairs Battalion attached to 3IBCT. “This child had no antibiotics, no pain killers and no aftercare other than what Sgt. Campbell was providing.”
Dutton is a reserve officer, and also a licensed practical nurse, who before being deployed, was working as a nurse at the Augusta, Georgia Veteran’s Administration. In the past, he’s served in medical units the majority of his military career and had just recently switched into civil affairs. Campbell and Dutton then began the task of locating help for the boy. With Dutton’s medical experience, he understood that time was of essence and began to quickly explore options for getting the young boy the medical help he so desperately needed.
“As civil affairs we are all about developing relaltionships. I have only been here for a couple months, but I spoke with several people and eventually got contact information for a non-governmental organization(NGO). They agreed to help him,” said Dutton.
The family was put in contact with the NGO and arrangements have been made to take the child as well as other children suffering from extreme medical needs to doctors and experts located beyond Kirkuk. Dutton went on to explain that they didn’t help the boy because they were mandated to do so, but instead because it’s what soldiers do.
“A large segment of the American public thinks its military just breaks and destroys things.” said Dutton. “I’ve consistently seen that it’s our compassion that separates us. Sgt. Campbell and his efforts here represent that and show what’s best about the American Soldier.”
Campbell of course feels that his role in helping to save the boys leg wasn’t anything special. He feels it’s just part of his job as a Soldier, but also as an American citizen.
“Of course we’re here to capture bad guys, but it’s also our job to help the people,” said Campbell. “It’s not about me. It’s about Americans. This is what American people are all about, and I’m going to help everyone I can, because that’s what an American Soldier is about.”
The boys father, is no longer resigned to thinking his son would lose his leg. His former mistrust of Coalition Troops has also changed to gratitude. He had this to say, through an interpreter.
“Sgt. Campbell and the others were always by me and always helped me,” he said. “They came to my house to treat and clean the leg and help when no one else would,” he said. “This is all to get my son help. For that I am grateful.”
Myself, I’m grateful each and every day, for the men and women like Sgt. Campbell and Captain Dutton. Men and women who give so much of themselves to ensure that others have a better way of life.