09 March 2005

Rebuilding Marines

If you have not yet heard National Public Radio's series "The Span of War", take advantage of the program archives available online; parts one and two are available now and the conclusion will post after tomorrow morning's broadcast. The series is currently-focused on Marines 1st Sgt. Brad Kasal and Lance Cpl. Alex Nicoll, both injured during the battle for Fallujah. As the report notes, the severe wounds suffered by each man would likely have been fatal in wars past, but recent advances in medicine generally and in battlefield medicine particularly have enabled these Marines and thousands of other servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive their wounds.

As more serious casualties become survivable, recovery becomes a more trying proposition. The series covers not only the extraordinary medical technology and care afforded to these injured Marines and others, but the individual courage of the injured and the critical role that courage plays in determining whether recovery is successful and to what degree. Reported are details of the Marines' personal heroism under fire and their heroic efforts on a daily basis afterward to rebuild themselves. Cpl. Nicoll's injuries forced the amputation of his leg; tomorrow's conclusion to the Marines' story will focus on his recovery. Sgt. Kasal, despite long odds and through experimental and grueling medical techniques, has fought to recover from his wounds so that he can ultimately rejoin his Marines on active duty; that objective has never been assured him, but the same spirit which enabled his excellence as a Marine and survival in battle has now enabled him to take this chance. It's a chance earlier generations did not have and one that few of us could see to fruition if given; these Marines are men of courage whose story should be heard.

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