Troops Aid Afghan Child Who Was Shot During Tribal Conflict

March 15, 2008

On the eve of the weekend that sparks of numerous anti-war demonstrations across the country, I think it’s only fitting to provide a clearer picture of the types of things that our Troops are doing. While the anti-war protestors prefer to tell outright lies about the actions of our Troops, I prefer to let people know the types of things that our Troops are accomplishing. This isn’t an isolated case. One only has to read the numerous milblogs that are out there, to know that the media and the anti-war folks are only emphasizing the isolated bad incidents and totally ignoring the multitude of positive things our Troops are doing.

One of the things our Troops strive to do, is to help the local people in the countries they’re serving in. Recently in Afghanistan, Troops helped to ensure that an Afghan girl who was caught in the cross-fire during a tribal shoot-out on February 26th, would survive. The shoot-out killed several members of her family, but the little girl is doing well thanks to the efforts of US Troops.

“I was sleeping and one of the Soldiers came to my door and told me there were going to be some patients coming,” recalled Army SSG Landon B. Powell, medical NCO, with HHT, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

“There was a tribal conflict that resulted in a certain part of the tribe attacking another family in the tribe,” said Army Captain James Chapman, Troop B commander. “It resulted in the death of four of the family members and the wounding of the little girl.”

After being shot, the little girl and her younger brothers walked three kilometers to get to the district center. It’s unknown how long she was there, prior to being brought to the hospital. When the little girl arrived, a rapid trauma assessment was done and a bullet wound was discovered.

“I didn’t know before she got here that she had already been seen by a civilian doctor,” said Powell. “The civilian doctor, in order to take care of the wound, sewed the bullet inside.”

After assessing the little girls’ injuries, Powell made the decision to call for a medical evacuation to transport the girl to a facility that was better equipped. He felt that the danger in removing the bullet at their location was just too great. The little girl was airlifted to FOB Salerno.

“In Salerno, they have x-ray and MRI capabilities, so where I was unable to see where the bullet was, they could.” Powell said. “We were mainly in charge of keeping her vitals stable, because in that type of situation you can have internal bleeding and the vitals can drop.”

While awaiting the arrival of the helicopter, Soldiers kept the little girl calm by talking to her. Experiences such as this, especially involving children are very personal for the Troops, many whom have children of their own and who automatically feel the need to protect the child and do everything in their power to help them. Many of our Troops become very attached to the children that they come into contact in Afghanistan and Iraq, so it’s extremely difficult to see the children injured. It’s also very rewarding, when they’re able to help wounded children survive and recover from their injuries.

“The way things happen here, I just thought, ‘That could have been my daughter,’” said Powell. “I haven’t seen my daughter in so long, so it’s easy to get a little emotionally attached.”

Afghan police are working to ensure that the people responsible for the murder of the little girl’s family members and for her injury are brought to justice. So far, they have arrested 6 people in connection with the incident and local government officials are working to make appropriate decisions regarding the welfare of the little girl and her brothers. Powell has visited the district center on several occasions to check on the girl and make sure that she’s recovering okay.

“This is the kind of stuff that keeps me going - being able to make a difference,” Powell said. “I enjoy helping people.”



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