The Charlotte Observer, at the conclusion of today’s article — “Fighting the battle against injury, death – High-tech gear, speed, compassion help troops, caregivers” — asks its readers to help Air Force Master Sgt. Dave Muns stock his shelves for the casualties who “often arrive at the Camp Anaconda base hospital without gear.”

“Their uniforms, even their boots, might have been cut off by medics in the field,” writes Mark Washburn. “It creates a dignity issue for those who must travel.” Below, how to help:

Operation Observer:

Can You Help?

The hospital, officially called the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility, needs donations of flip-flops, T-shirts, shorts and underwear for men and women, and telephone calling cards.

Also, a card of encouragement is placed onto every stretcher before medical evacuation flights. To send supplies and/or cards, use this address:

Air Force Master Sgt. Dave Muns


APO AE 09315-9997

From the top of the The Charlotte Observer article:

CAMP ANACONDA, Iraq – First, the grievously wounded arrive for the flight on stretchers, some carried by volunteers who show up for special duty in the middle of the night after working on the base all day.

Then, after the last stretcher is loaded aboard the military evacuation plane, the other patients — the ambulatory patients — get ready to ascend the ramp, one after the other.

Volunteers and staff from Camp Anaconda’s tent hospital flank their path.

They clap vigorously and they cheer loudly as the first patient appears and they do this until the last one makes the climb, the circle closing, the salute echoing through the cavernous C-141.

This — this — is the last sound the casualties hear in Iraq.

Speed, technology and advancements in armor have made the battlefield in Iraq one of the most survivable in the history of warfare:

  • A new blood clotting powder for major bleeds has proven so effective it is now being issued for medical kits.
  • U.S. forces in the field are heavily populated with combat life-savers, soldiers with training comparable to emergency paramedics back home.
  • A fleet of aircraft — from helicopters to cargo planes — are on call to rush casualties to care.
  • Physicians with advanced skills, from neurosurgery to cardiology, practice in field hospitals.
  • In extreme cases, patients make the five-hour flight to the storied military medical center in Landstuhl, Germany, within hours of their injury aboard an airborne intensive care unit.

After three years, the U.S. death toll in Iraq is rising toward 1,700, far lower than the 3,000-plus deaths predicted even for the initial invasion.

“This kind of stuff is new to this war,” says Maj. Charles Campbell of San Antonio. “The most significant improvement is the critical specialists close to the battlefield.”

Campbell is an Air Force cardiologist who often practices in the cold, noisy belly of a C-141 cargo plane, racing to Landstuhl from Camp Anaconda north of Baghdad. …

The remainder of the The Charlotte Observer article is far too long to even encapsulate here, except to say that it’s clear that there are some incredibly dedicated, sharp, hard-working people trying to save and to rapidly transport every wounded soldier. Okay, just one more passage:

Devastating injuries

Body armor saves lives, but explosions leave hideous injuries.Army Maj. Kendra Whyatt of Greenwood, Miss., sees the devastation of improvised bombs and blasts, the amputations of mangled limbs.

We are a living, true testament that our soldiers are still in harm’s way,” says Whyatt, a veteran of Desert Storm. “The war is over, but the battle continues.”

Head nurse for a hospital unit in Germany, she follows the news closely to predict when the next wave of patients will hit her ward. She was prepared for heavy casualties by watching the buildup around Fallujah.

“When the Marines surround it, they’re not there for a kumbaya moment,” she says.

Despite the serious nature of the wounds and the work, there are light moments on her ward, too — races on crutches or wheelchairs are common in her halls.

She says 80 percent of her patients want to know when they can return to their units.

“I love what I do,” Whyatt says. “There’s nowhere else I’d rather be right now.”

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