An 18 gauge hypo leaves a hell of a hole!I'll get some things started with a little tale.
January 2008, our unit, a stripped to the bones Marine LAR company, is assigned to a rinky-dink "police station" in the middle-of-no where Anbar Province. The mission was to mentor the Police and deter the oil smuggling that was rampant. Conflicting missions, of course, as the smugglers-in-chief wore uniforms of blue and operated behind our backs - another topic for another day.
Fragged with a mission to clear some dried up river beds and search for enemy, the unit prepped personnel and equipment. As the 2IC, I knew I'd stay behind and handle the patrol base and communications while the Skipper led the mission.
As the patrol stepped off I assumed my role in the COC - command operations center - briefing the staff on what to expect and making sure communications gear was operating up to par. Now that may sound jazzy, but bear in mind that we were in a half destroyed building, in the middle of the dessert, with no heat or electricity and most of us hadn't washed out rears in 4 months. My "staff" was 19 year old communicator and a 20 year old Navy Corpsman; one who had joined as result of an ultimatum offered by a very understanding small town criminal court judge.
The terrain in western Anbar was wide open. Though the Bn Hq was over 75 miles away, we could still see lights in the distance on a clear night. As such, the mission was essentially uneventful. A few ancient artifacts were found, such as a US issue M16A1, but otherwise crickets and we heard little from the patrol.
Back at the COC I took things seriously. Without the excess folks to trip over, I set my sights on cleaning up the hell-hole we worked in. Garbage went out and things were headed the right way. Eyeing a mountain of cardboard piling up in the corner, I pulled out my "old timer" and went to work. I didn't have the means to shave, but I sure kept that little knife sharp.
So sharp, in fact, that while cutting up the card board I noticed that my leg was soaked in a warm, red fluid. Never felt a thing. I had a general sense of where it was coming from on my thigh, and put on some pressure. I then told the young operator, "Hey bud, go grab the Corpsman". As he turned around and saw he turned white as a ghost, before scrambling out. Having still not looked, I decide to take a peek while he was out. Sure enough...4" long and an inch deep straight into my thigh. And what a time for it to happen - when you're the senior man on deck.
Minutes later the young corpsman comes scrambling full of ambition and ready to save the world. Manning the radios with one hand and keeping pressure on my self-inflicted wound with the other, I said, "Doc, I just need you to put a few stitches in". He assured me it would be no problem, as they stitched chicken thighs in his basic school. As he got his kit ready and a half moon shaped needle set up in a clamp I pulled the pressure off. No sooner than Doc saw my leg did he hit the floor.
After spending a few minutes bringing Doc back into the fight, he explained there was no-way-no-how he was stitching my leg, and that if he dabbled in it the chief and medical officer would have his rear end back at camp. This turned into me explaining to doc there was no-way-no-how I was going to be evacuated and leave a LCpl in charge of the patrol base during a mission.
After this back and forth went on for a bit - we decided I'd stitch my own dang leg, and Doc could say he never knew. After my best effort with Docs little half moon needle - which was probably too dull to stitch a banana - I opted to use a straight 18 gauge needle through the flesh, and I could pass the suture material through the inside - something I'd learned along the way. Worked well enough to get me patched up with 6 crude but tight stitches, keep the COC running, and keep the young Doc out of trouble.
Sure left one hell of a scar - be careful with them knives, fellas.
WOW man, that is deep. :congrats:There's a few from me... but one of my most... humbling? goes as follows.
I was an 88M, a heavy wheeled vehicle operator. Stationed in Germany we deployed to Hungary/Bosnian theater in late '98. We were based on Taszar airfield in Hungary.
And our main mission was re-supply- food, ammunition, and mail into Bosnia and Croatia. We'd drive from Hungary in, usually around a 14 hr day. We used american CB radios for internal convoy comms. Usually just jokes, "hey watch that truck"... this idiot... etc.
This one day, everybody's in rare form- a lot of kidding and chit chat on the radios. I'm in one of the lead trucks.
There's a town we just called "the left turn" because as we went thru, we turned left at this huge town square. There's a huge, old castle-like government building in the square. Beautiful, even after being war-torn and ravaged.
This day, we make our usual turn.
And as we do, a little old lady steps off the curb and onto the edge of the road. Frail, bent over, hanging onto a cane as she moved slowly. At first, I tensed up. It was weird...
Then, she raised her head looking straight at me... Made the sign of the cross across her body, and blew a kiss at me in my truck.
She repeated that for every single truck in our convoy as we passed. We all knew that in a predominantly Muslim area, she was in effect risking her life doing so.
The entire rest of that trip - not a single time did anyone use a radio...
That single act changed me. Changed the soldier I endeavored to be from then on... it was no longer about me.