August 31, 2007

Hospitals and Chaplains

Very late ast night, we flew out of FOB Rustimaya and back into the International Zone (IZ). The helicopter made four stops along the way but we could not take pictures, since the helicopters fly with no lights at night.

We were not sure what we would be doing back at the IZ, but we found out shortly after arrival at the Washington IZ Terminal. Sergeant Bell was waiting for us and told us that we were expected at Camp Al Taqaddum, or as most people here call it: "Camp TQ."

[Those who listened to the talk shows we did in October 2006 will remember that one of the Iraqi cities we went to was near Camp TQ. We went with the Minnesota National Guard to a school grand opening with the Iraqi Army. If you have not listened to that program, it is well worth your time to go back into our past shows/archives and listen to the children and our National Guard. We also interviewed the Principal and did an hour program at Bear Cat Chapel with Chaplain Timm and SPC Fideldi].

Now we are back at Camp TQ. What is fascinating is that some of the Marines we are now with remember Major Bastian and the Minnesota National Guard MITT Team. We are now able to look back months later, and see all the changes--the progress that has happened here and in the Anbar Province.

We are now with the 2nd Marine Logistics Group Forward based out of Camp LeJeune, NC. Today CPL Wayne with the Public Affairs Office gave us an overview of what we would be doing here over the days ahead.

Then we went over to the TQ Surgical Center. Lieutenant Wilfredo Morales, who has 18 years in the Navy, is the 2nd Medical Battalion Commanding Officer. He gave us an overview of this Surgical Center and a tour of their modern facility.

We also talked with Captain Christopher Kowalsky, Captain Jernigan (Chief for Professional Services) and Lieutenant Commander Robin Gross (21 years in the Navy). In addition to her duties as a nurse at the hospital, LCDR Ross puts on the body armor and kevlar and flies with wounded to their next medical facility. We also talked with Orthpedic Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Harlan Taliaferro, Corporal Christopher Cundari, HN Christa Pun-Chun and HM3 Jeffrey Ramirez.

What an hour of interviews! These folks who come from different parts of America to--simply stated--save lives. They treat Americans, Coalition, Iraqi Army and Police, Iraqi citizens and children and even Insurgents. This was an incredible experience.

Later we interviewed 30 year veteran, CDR William Klorig, Group Surgeon of 2nd Marine Logistics Group Forward. The Commander and his teams oversee all medical facilities in Anbar Province. He is a doctor with a family ractice back home. He gives a great overview of the medical facility progress in this area.

Later we talked with our third Chaplain since we began this third trip. We visited Lakeside Chapel and talked with Chaplain LT David Hicks, who is on his second tour. His first was in Hit, Iraq and now he is finishing up his second tour ministering to our military at Camp TQ.

As with all the interviews since we arrived in Iraq, everybody will want to listen. Any questions of "is there progress in Iraq?" will be answered as our military personnel, civilians, contractors and Iraqis give us the answers in their own words.

Tomorrow is another full day of interviews and filming, uncluding another convoy. We will have more on that after we complete the mission.

I have said this many times: After a little over two weeks I am ready to go home and recuperate. I am amazed at the hundreds of thousands of our sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, etc. who spend six months, a year, 15 months, two years and longer in Iraq. Physically, especially in this heat, it is not easy. But they do it, and they are doing an absolutely incredible job.

Now it is our job--we the American people--to spread the word as soon as these programs start airing on the internet and on Altitude, and later on DVD's.

Thank you!!!


Bob Calvert

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