Saturday, December 18, 2010

Medical college helps Madison-based unit that lost everything in mortar attack

We received this today from Maj. Matthew Lawrence, an Army public affairs officer who has helped keep us updated on the work on the Madison-based 911th Forward Surgical Team:

"I thought you might be interested in this. The 911th Forward Surgical Team
from Madison, Wis., lost virtually everything in a rocket attack in
September. The Medical College of Wisconsin sent a number of
computers they were life-cycling to the junior Soldiers to replace some of
their more expensive items lost in the fire."

The photos were taken by Army Maj. Patricia Olsen, a member of the 911th. Above,
Soldiers from team survey the damage in September after the nighttime attack destroyed their sleeping tent at a base in Iraq's Maysan Province along the Iran border. The soldiers lost most of their possessions and equipment in the fire. They were not in the tent when the rocket hit, and no injuries were reported in the unit.

At left is another view, a fire extinguisher stands amid the rubble, and below right, the "DELAYED" sign indicates that the team was anything but defeated.

Maj. Lawrence tells the soldiers were able to get out of the tent thanks to the base defense system:

"... many times, there is a warning
in advance while a mortar is detected in trajectory. I have been told
recently that the hit was actually not a mortar, but a 107mm rocket.
Apparently, those make a whistling sound when they come in. All of the Soldiers had taken shelter in a concrete bunker when they were alerted to the attack, and none were in danger when the rocket hit the tent."

Here is an item about the donations, written for by Medical College of Wisconsin officials for college employees:

The Department of Surgery, along with the departments of Pediatrics and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Tushaus Computer Services, recently shipped nine computers to Iraq for U.S. soldiers who lost theirs in a rocket attack. It is expected that the computers will arrive in time for Christmas.

Lewis B. Somberg, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery (Trauma and Critical Care), is assigned to the 911 Forward Surgical Unit, which was deployed to Iraq in May. Dr. Somberg was not able to go with the team because he is in Command School, but said that on the evening of Sept. 4, the base the unit was stationed on came under rocket attack. All members of the unit were able to safely make it to a bunker, but their sleeping tent, where their computers and all of their other personal belongings were located, was hit and burned to the ground. Members of the unit who used that tent lost everything.

“I can tell you from personal experience that having a computer over there is an absolute necessity,” Dr. Somberg said. “It is the only lifeline you have to your family and the world.”

David Gourlay, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery (Pediatric), is also part of the Surgical Unit and was stationed in Iraq when the rocket attack occurred.

“When I returned, I was proud to see that my department had spearheaded this effort,” said Dr. Gourlay. “It is particularly difficult for the junior enlisted personnel to replace more expensive items like a computer, and will mean so much to them to know people back home continue to keep them in mind.”