Taking Care Of Ben (Tissue Alert)

We all are pretty aware of the kind, compassionate nature of our Troops, even in the midst of a warzone. Here, as well as on other Blogs, endless stories of the generosity of kindness exhibited by our Troops, towards the Iraqi people have been told over and over again. When I saw this story, I knew right away it was one our readers would be interested it. How did I know that? I know how it affected me, how it filled me with pride and gratitude to have such loving and giving people serving our Country. This is a story about a young US Soldier and a young autistic and hyperactive Iraqi boy, whom they call Ben. This is a story that will tug on your heart strings, like it did mine.

Ben is an 8 year old Iraqi boy, whom Iraqi police found wandering alone through deserted streets in the industrial section of Adhamiyah on October 1st. Ben had no sort of identification and when asked what his name was, or where he lived, he didn’t respond. Concerned about his safety, the police officers who found him, brought him to th district police station, which was in the same building as the Adhamiyah Joint Security Station in eastern Baghdad.

That’s when Captain William Chastain, who commands US forces at the JSS saw Ben. Ben was dirty and thin and they had no idea how long he’d been wandering the streets alone. Capt. Chastain told Spc. Tyler Ratliff, a medic with Headquarters Troop, 3rd “Saber” Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment to give Ben a medical screening. Since that day, Ben will hardly leave Ratliff’s sight. Ratliff immedatly became the primary guardian for this 8 year old autistic and hyperactive little boy.

Keeping Ben entertained and out of the typical 8 year old mischief, is a full-time job, in and of itself. Ben is full of boundless energy, sleeping only a few hours a day, yet he still continues “bouncing off the walls.” It’s nothing for the Troops at the JSS to hear, “Ben, don’t touch that,” as Ben makes his rounds and tinkers with anything that catches his eye. That might be an expensive digital camera, or any other number of things you’d find in the JSS.

“I’ve basically just been babysitting him,” said Ratliff.

Babysitting Ben, might be keeping him entertained with soccer balls, or with balloons made form surgical gloves. Of course, Ratliff has to keep a constant eye on Ben, to ensure that he doesn’t get himself into something that might harm him. Ben, who mostly communicates in a series of yips and yaps is starting to come out of his shell, since he’s been under Ratliff’s care. Ratliff has gotten him where he’ll now ask for food and water if that’s what he’s wanting.

“The first night he was here, he didn’t speak a word, but he is a lot more vocal now,” Ratliff said.

Ratliff has no children of his own, so caring for this energetic pint-sized bundle has been a challenge. Despite his handicaps, 8 year old Ben manages to keep Ratliff on his toes, pretty much 24/7.

“He’ll sleep for two or three hours at a time. Then he wakes up and tries to make a break for it,” he said.

As Ratliff continues to watch over his charge, the Iraqi police have been busy attempting to locate Ben’s parents. They have distributed Ben’s picture to police officers who patrol the area where Ben was found. They show his photo to people every day, in hopes that someone will recognize Ben and be able to give them any kind of clue to his identity.

Soldiers stationed at the JSS, have found that having Ben with them, is a welcome change. Spc. Howard Leleux enjoys watching the boys antics, which remind him f some of the things his own 6 year old son does.

“It’s a big morale boost, honestly,” Leleux said. “I have a six-year old of my own and some of the things Ben des remind me of him.”

Captain Chastain jokes that with Ben at the JSS, they now operate a day care center. Despite the jokes, Chastain is quick to point out how impressed he is with Ratliff and his assumption of responsibility for Ben.

“Ratliff’s done a great job,” he said. “He’s shown a lot of maturity.”

Ratliff says that the experience of taking care of Ben, has provided him with a whole new outlook on what it takes to care for a child and how difficult that can be at times.

“I really appreciate my Mom a lot more now,” he said with a weary chuckle.

1st Cav News

12 Responses

  1. Lee Says:

    Great story! Has anybody thought to send this to Oboma or Harry Reid or Mutah. Kinda shoots the theory that all our guys are doing is raping women, breaking in to houses at night, straffing inocent villages and the war is lost.

    Keep up the good work guys!!

    Proud father of an 82 Airborne Paratrooper

  2. Terri Says:

    Thanks so much for stopping by Lee. Great idea and you’re right it does shoot their theory all to hell. Please share our gratitude with your son, for his service and sacrifice for our country.

  3. Leta Says:

    Terri ~ this story made my day. Not a surprise to me. We know how human our military personnel are. Sadly too many don’t seem to “get it” that we are at war and war often isn’t nice.

    On the other hand ~ we also know that there are volumns of stories like these that the MSM chooses to ignore. We know that day after day our troops are being invited in to the homes of locals, helping care for sick and wounded Iraqis, showing compassion in a multitude of ways.

    Look at that smile on Ben’s face. How powerful is that? My heart aches for him. I couldn’t be happier that he has Spc. Ratliff and all the others at the JSS as his caretakers these days. No doubt they are providing him with comfort and safety that had eluded him. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!

  4. Claire Says:

    Terri, do you know if there is anyway to send Ben some clothing or toys that would be good for a boy that age with autism? I would love to donate a box with things for him if there was an address I could send it to.

    Thank you so much for posting this. This story was very touching and a true example of the moral fiber of our troops. Phenomenal is what they are!

  5. Terri Says:

    Claire I’m attempting to get in contact with either Captain Chastain or Spc Ratliff to see if I can get an address, so that we can send things for Ben. Since they’re at a JSS and not one of the FOBs, their computer access is more than likely limited, so it may take awhile.

  6. Lee Says:


    Count me and my wife in. We have a son serving in Iraq and 10 grandchildren. I am pretty sure we can come up with some clothes for Ben also. Let me know.

    Proud Poppa of an 82nd Airborne Soldier!

  7. Terri Says:

    I sure will Lee. Still working on trying to get an address to send things for Ben. Will let everyone know as soon as I find something out.

  8. Claire Says:

    I just had to link to this article on my blog. I told my husband about it (he is currently recovering from a fracture sustained in OCS) and he was very blessed to hear about it. He wants to share it with some of the guys he serves with.

    Thanks again Terri, and I will check in sometime down the road to find out if you were able to get an addy. My son is stationed in an area with very limited phone and internet availability so I know it may take weeks to hear back.

  9. Terri Says:

    Thanks Claire! We’re still working on coming up with an address. Knowing that they’re at a JSS tells me that they have limited access to the internet, as you said.

    Please let your hubby know that we’re keeping him in our thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.

  10. CavMom Says:

    I got a reply… They are looking for a POC for us!

  11. Terri Says:

    Thanks CavMom, please keep me posted.

  12. A Soldier’s Mind » Update On Ben Says:

    [...] sure that most of you remember, I shared Ben’s story in this post on October 13th. Ben is an autistic child who was found wandering around an industrial area of [...]

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