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tv   Oral Histories Patty Justice Witness to War  CSPAN  November 6, 2021 6:45pm-8:01pm EDT

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documents america story and on sunday book tv brings you the latest in nonfiction books and authors. funding for cspan2 comes from these television companies and more including wow. >> the world has changed, today the fast reliable internet connection something no one can live without. so why was there for our customers through speed, reliability, value and choice. now more than ever it starts with great internet. wow. >> while along these television company support cspan2 as a public service. up next on american history tv we hear from patty justice who served in afghanistan during operation enduring freedom with the u.s. army nurse corps training support battalion first medical training brigade. she describes her experiences including treating local civilians and encounters with the towel bad for this oral history recorded by the witness to war foundation.
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>> i'm sitting with patty justice who served in operation enduring freedom in afghanistan in the united states army nurse corps medical training support battalion, how are you doing today patty? >> doing great thank you. >> my first questions were read from originally? >> original from mexico city new mexico. i was born there, because my father was a vice president of the steel mill. he was looking for something to do a bit more extravagant and that's how i was there. >> how long did you live in mexico city? >> removed her nest eight years old after the evaluations convex united states precooked any memorable stories from your time in mexico city? >> went to a british school, bilingual as well. after that came up here to the
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united states. unfortunately had a very thick spanish accent which my mother was absolutely a port about. we had to relearn the english language up here. >> did you miss it? >> we move to several places here. after we moved here, my father decided to consult for field companies. our first destination was florida. that wasn't too bad, we were with spanish wasn't too bad at all. >> tell me how you came in just anyone in your family serve in the military? >> know it really served in the military prior to me but my father was part of the manhattan project. he was met allergic engineer. they were in new york at the time during world war ii. my father's little bit older when i was born. so basically, after the atomic bomb went off they know
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exactly what was going on. very secretive. so that is really the major thing with the family. so, after that in high school, in california because we moved to california, we basically -- i basically did jrotc. got a scholarship to go to new mexico military institute. that is how might military career first started off it. >> how did you become interested in the rotc? >> i always liked it. i always saw with their uniforms. i thought let's try it, what see what comes about. so i just loved it and that is how i started in the military. >> any memorable explains at the academy? >> it is a two-year school where you can actually get an appointment to west point as
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well. so during that time, i was getting geared up to go to west point. unfortunately we only had to go to advanced camp, i ruined my right knee. that got me out of contention. so that military school basically said you can stay here. of course i lost my rotc scholarship. if you can get an associates degree and go from there. so that kind of squashed my military career at that time. >> what you mean? >> pretty much the escape the invasion at night and we have huge platoons and we go running off into the darkness and with the momentum of bigger guys behind me they put the shorties in the tall ones behind us, kind of got shoved and that is what happened. >> host: so aptly lost her scholarship would do?
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>> out to all catholic school after that. so from an all mail academy pretty much to an all female college, received a ba in business administration at the time wasn't all girl catholic school. that was in los angeles, california. after that i started working for northrop electronics, defense contractor is now i was a contract administrator starts to get a taste of the middle east i was doing some negotiations with the saudi's rep for desert storm. >> what interested you about the middle east? >> guest: first of all of the correspondence was not local,
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it was all through i guess, it was e-mail and paper. they found out they were negotiating with a female thing that would have been it. so it was pete and the might last maiden name it was interesting, it was interesting. what happened when desert storm hit questioner. >> once a desert storm hippy got busy we did the transceiver cannot even say it right, we did the transceivers on the smaller electronics, that was my contracts. then of course after that, the cold were kind of ended as well so a lot of the contracts fell. our contracts with the saudi's was fulfilled let's say so everything started to cool down. >> how long did you stay questioner. >> i lived there for three years.
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and then, as i said defense contracting started to go down a little bit. so there was writing on the wall besides i was the bottom. so i thought i better start looking for new job. so my sister at the time lived here in georgia. she said why don't you come out here and that is how i came to live here in georgia now. >> once you got to georgia what did you do? >> i actually started working for a hospital in the hr department. and after seeing what the nurses were doing, i thought i can do that. so then i started going to nursing school here in georgia. how is nursing school compared to all the other schools should been to? it was different it was
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medical 180 from business. it was pretty serious about that up i don't do well here when my going to do next? i did get a two-year degree at the time. >> anything you are able to cross over from business? no. [laughter] nothing at all. so it was 8180, it was a 180. there was science but is totally different. >> what happened question? >> than i did start working my first job as a psychiatric nurse down in la grange, which i really love but the traveling was a little bit too far. it took over an hour or hour and a half. and at the time i thought i was a little bit older than most of the graduates from the nursing school, i've got to get going of got to be more competitive. so i decided to come back up around where i live here and start the medical surgical floor that was interesting as
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well. a little bit more nursing than the psychiatric side of the house. >> anything memorable happened? >> not really. it was a lot of patience staffing issues like we still have today. it was a good growing experience you had to adapt to change a lot, a lot. >> host: i see you're doing this during 9/11. >> and during that time, yes. before 911, i decided again to change my nursing specialty. so from psychiatric to med surge i had a little bit of icu during that time as well. but i then decided let's try the operating room, that sounds a little bit more fun. so right before 911 i became
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an or nurse. so when 911 hit, i figured let's see what i can do. so i got a little postcard in the mail saying we need nurses in the army in the reserve. they had basically upped the age limit at the time. so i thought well you know, i'm going to try again. i went to the healthcare recruiter at first he was like are you kidding me? is this a joke? at the time i was 38. i already had my bsn because i continued on my education. and he was like no way. that someone making a joke i said no i would like to do this. okay, let's start doing it. we did the paperwork, i pass the physical, everything that needed to be done. so then i got a direct
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commission. i thought to myself, i could have done all of this without going through all of that at basic. but looking back, i'm glad i did all of that. especially when i went out to afghanistan. >> once you get your commission word they sent you? >> my first mobilization was at brooke army medical center in san antonio. that was during operation iraqi freedom. that is where got to experience the back end of what happens to the soldier after he has been through different levels of care. brooke army medical center was the last level of care for soldiers. so basically we got them and that is where we didn't multiple surgeries to get them
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stabilized and back on ground as soon as possible. >> any memorable soldiers? >> my first soldier was tyler ziegler. i do not know if you remember him or not. he was the one that was in a terrible firefight got hurt and burned. he was on people magazine, he was on the oprah show. we work together and i mean in the operating room at least 42 times to get him going. that was my memorable soldier. pretty much when he first came in and take care of them was pretty broken up. but the big thing was to get him back mentally, physically, we had to get him to the point
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he could do his daily living just to pick up things because he did lose his right arm. so we needed to fix his left arm because he had lost some of his fingers and his thumb. so we had to get him going as well, he had a lot of surgeries we got him going. but we got him going. he lived for a while and i just found out he passed away unfortunately. but that happens. it happens. tell me what it was like was a pretty hectic all the time? >> it was hectic during the time we were getting a lot of the soldiers from falluja and another area of iraq. since we were reservists there my battalion was mobilized, as i stated from here because a lot of the army nurses there will be deployed over too iraq
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so we augmented for them. it was crazy, it was a crazy time. very busy all of the time. the 40 hour a week, forget it. we did not see 40 hours a week. if we saw 60 we were lucky. it was not just monday through friday. we were on call, as i said busy, busy time. that is how a lot of the fisher houses started it was busy. >> abuse tank pretty close to campus? >> yes luckily we were afforded apartments because of course we could not live on base because at the time again it was busy and full. so we had to live in apartments, which was nice. we had our own vehicles because we all drove from here to texas.
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at least we were able to have pov's. it was busy. one day i came home one night and i still had my uniform on and i sat on my couch the next thing i knew i was waking up the next morning right before work just so tired. but that is what we had to do, that as we had to do. how long did you stay? >> we were there 18 months that was a long mobilization. but again it was a good learning and growing process. >> anybody else or not your mind? during your time there? >> there were so many people, just so many different guys and gals coming through they were all great. >> at what happened after brooke? >> after that we settle down with the battalion and then i got the itch to do something different. i had gotten to a command
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sergeant major and i would keep in touch with him. he was from texas. and he said well, why don't you come to my battalion i said what the tight are you in and he sits affairs unit i thought well, that would be fun. he said we need nurses. do you want to do it? is it okay i will do it. so i transferred from right medical battalion to the civil affairs battalion. : : military intelligence, all sorts of other disciplines let's say. get away from the medical for a while. being the nurse, i was only one out of two nurses that cared for
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the units. so, if there's any questions, concerns or getting ready to do any medical type things, we were the subject experts for medical. so that was pretty cool. i basically wrapped them up when they were getting ready to go to africa. so that was pretty cool. then, unfortunately, i was up for promotion and didn't have a slot for me because everything has to go by slots and qualification and unfortunately i had to leave the civil affairs unit. all of a sudden i got a phone call from a combat support hospital in texas and in san antonio and they were looking for an operating room nurse. basically they had a slot for
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being promoted, so i said okay that sounds great. there was a caveat, that we were being deployed. so i said okay. so here i go again, which was fine. i thought at least i will get a deployment out of this and who knows where that will lead me. so, i got into the 628 surgical team and they were deployed to afghanistan. that's where everything started. who was on the six to eight when you joined up? >> it has primarily between 14 to 20 unit members and it consists of basically emergency room operating room and icu recovery personnel, medical personnel. the doctors had assigned a trauma surgeon or orthopedic
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surgeon, but they would stay with us 90 days during each deployment. so basically there was the surgeons and unit members all stay together. our deployment was 12 months. we became very, very close. only two females and the rest were males. it didn't bother me so much because of the military school, and so i was comfortable with that. i didn't have any problems with that at all, plus i was the oldest as well. the average age for the unit members were between 21 and 25 and left by the time i was 50. >> tell me what that trip was
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like for you. >> had a lot of training. tab two. the first training was basically more training over fort mccoy called rtc and embedded with combat engineers. and we had a new tactical situation. it's the what if situation. so, we were there about six weeks and learned a lot luckily with the civil affairs, the operational and technical side i had a leg up a little bit more than some of my unit members, so helped out there and then after the six weeks, had a week off. then we went to florida and went to a trauma center, which is basically a trauma center period
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in miami, florida. and this is where we got our first taste of real trauma. so, my operating room guys never really saw trauma until we got there and i said this is what it looks like plus more, i believe. so we learned a lot and it was almost like combat. we literally lived in the hospital. when things came through, we were there. so, the emergency room part where my unit members did their stuff, they did the same thing. it was interesting. and for the operating room, it wasn't the day shift. it was the night shift. and we really saw everything
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that came through the door because as everyone knows, miami is a hot spot and it's no longer a nice place, so we did everything from gunshot wound is to drowning to fire two homicides, you name it, we did it. so we were busy. and then at the very end, we had to take over trauma as a unit while the staff stood back. so that's how we got our first taste is okay this is what may happen. a. >> this sounds like a great hands-on training. did you walk away with any knowledge that you picked up? >> we learned so many things that when we finally got to our fob, we saw the same things, plus more. we actually had some scenarios where a generator at the hospital or trauma center would go out.
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it happened out there. so it was like this is truly great training and the trainers were also from the surgical teams. at least they knew the talk and the walk. >> tell me about the trip over to afghanistan. >> my goodness. well, we only had two weeks off. we had to get all our equipment and made sure we had everything and we went to port louis for more training. this time we had to set up our surgical tent and make sure that we knew what we had. so there is a progression to the peak. so we were there i believe another six weeks, and again,
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more physical training than anything else. so, once we got done, we had a two and a half days off. our families flew up to st. louis and then it was time to go. so from minnesota to ram stein tutors tours -- bruce extend to afghanistan so there's a lot of hopping going on. basically the trip took over 30 hours between stops. >> and what was going through your mind that whole time? >> it was just so busy that we didn't even think about home or i didn't think about home
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because i was thinking what was out there and plus meeting a lot of folks and adjust a lot, busy, busy. it was into this hurry up and wait at that moment. the hurry up and wait was like my gosh. it was just long getting there. >> once you arrived, what were your first questions? >> once we arrived, the first stop was at bagram air we stayed there for the weekend had to go through more training. especially cultural sensitivity and getting acclimated as well because where we were going we had to get acclimated to the weather and the elevation.
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just getting acclimated to to wearing our uniforms. even though we were wearing uniforms all the time, this was a different type of uniform. now we had they were being shelled so that was our first experience of getting them ordered so that is a wake-up call because it's like okay this is a huge base. we are still not safe and this is a huge base. so what are we going to look forward to when we get to the operational base which is a little bit smaller. so there was a lot of chaos going on. we were the only two females out of the whole thing and at first we were separated. we were supposed to be in the
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female tents and then the males were in the mail tent. it got to the point we knew we needed to stay together in case we had to do meetings and the training and do everything together. so, maybe it is a no-no, but myself and we don't care, we are going to roll the dice. they didn't have any problem with it because sometimes we do have to move together. so that was our first experience as well so we got into the tent and courted off and then okay now it starts. so we were there for a week and then it was time to go. that was an experience as well.
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it was 50 miles but because of taliban and the terrain as well it was just too dangerous so basically, we had to go with the ic 17. basically these are little tiny straps that were part of the cargo so we had to wait to get us there and we had to go at night. we couldn't go during the day because of operations as well, plus keeping it a little bit more covert because of it in delhi when they heard there was new medical coming in, we were good targets because we were the heartbeat so they figured if they could knock out the
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medical, they could knock out missions and pretty much, they were right. a. >> did you see anything memorable on your way? >> my only thing on the planes were these windows. you don't know what's out there and then once we start landing, they turn a red light on. now two of the guys i can't say they were ex- infantrymen. but they were used to it and of course they were looking at us like it will be all right. and of course i'm sure my eyes are like this because we still
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had our weapons and the whole 9 yards. it was interesting. it was an 8-mile operational base and pretty much it wasn't a circle. it was mostly almost like a triangle. it consisted of over 7,000 people. you wouldn't know it at the time. and we when we first got there we were embedded and out within a month for a new brigade to come in. so during that time there was a new brigade coming in and they were going out.
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we basically had the armor with us for six months, seven months. so it was interesting at that time. we also had nato forces. we had our scanning is living there as contract workers. a lot from india so it was a lot of cultures mixed into one but they were always around us and of course the american forces. >> when we finally landed at
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shank, it was dark and cold and around 1:30 in the morning. we got picked up by special forces. it was a blackout situation, no lights. so we fly in and sit around for about an hour to figure out what's going on. once we get everything finally situated they ask are you so and so. okay so we pull all of our gear and again getting the trucks they finally put the lights on a little bit so they could maneuver out. the only thing i see is the
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wire. it's dark and there's so much dust and dirt it was like snow, and the only thing that went through my mind is what have i done. [laughter] so that was the beginning of my experience was what have i done because i didn't know where we were going. it felt like a total alien environment. and to me i thought we drove and drove and it was only ten minutes. it was only ten minutes to where we were supposed to go. stopped, pulled all of our stuff out, met the other that we were going to exchange with and they basically said it's late. we will show you where the bathrooms are, here is your
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tenant. that's it and that's how it started. so it was unbelievable. >> basically, the terrain around us we basically never really left the area so let's say less than 50 yards. we needed to learn where everything was. to learn it quickly especially at night because they only had flashlights. we had to learn the culture as well around us. they didn't have any problems. it was the females that had a few obstacles and barriers especially with the afghan is and the muslims because here we
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are wearing our uniforms with a weapon and looking at them because they were told don't look at them. i'm sorry, i can't do that. i'm a very visual person. i would have to look at them and talk to them so that kind of made a few ruffled feathers. >> any other experiences? >> unfortunately, we had to take care of the prisoners of war and locals. we have to especially in the operating room we have to position them. we have to do things before they are put down to sleep for the surgeries and they didn't like this. it got to the point it was like too bad. we have to do take care of you and we had interpreters with us.
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i'm the only one who can do this at this time. they didn't like it at all. what can we do. some of the locals are okay. they were going into the war. there are some bad ones out there, but there are some good people and they look like toys and there were small little
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bombs. they would get horribly hurt and bring them in and we would try to do everything we could. the mother never came in until the very end. again we didn't know if they were fathers, uncles because every time we would ask a question, their answers were different. so that was another thing we had to play with. so it was never-ending. who are you. we had some bad people come through as well. one was called and others were not. we had one day a so called uncle that came in and unfortunately, the child was shot in the head. it was a male child which was unusual, first of all so that was one of the red flags
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especially. he wasn't allowed to be outside of this area where we first put our patients. he just kept looking around. he was just stone, looking and looking. basically we do fingerprints and that's how we id these folks out there because we were embedded as well. they came out and it was at
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night and they interrogated him a little bit more. when i say interrogated, it just didn't jive how this child got hurt and the way he was doing things. then he started saying it was an american bullet that did this and he wanted money and more red flags came up. then he came up dirty. it wasn't his child. come to find out, he had bought the child. so, and another wake-up call. after that, when we small children coming in hurt, it was like suspicious. but he was dirty. so they got him, but still you never knew who came through those doors.
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pretty much they do that fingerprints, the irs and it's a database and they suspected a telegram from previous records where they somehow got let go because a lot of them got let go and that's how we could get them. so at least we had a little bit of that technology out there. yes. >> there was an explosion on base. can you tell me that story? >> it was basically called rocket city. we always had a record on how many a day we had. and basically, we had over 278 by the time we left. sometimes we would get hit once sometimes multiple times, six or ten times a day. most of the time it was during the day or early morning.
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once in a while at night, which was unusual because usually, what we heard was at night we would get hit, but for some reason we didn't get hit as much at night. there were orders, snipes, some ids out behind the wire. but the mortars, my goodness, when they hit, they hit. they got better as the year progressed as well. they were targeting us and the packs where the airplane and helicopters were landing. it got really close so they finally got there one day and that was pretty busy. then they got to be close to the
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medevac's. we had to be careful and not stand out all the time because we could literally see them sitting on that hill watching us and we couldn't do anything about it because they were not shooting at us and that was the rules of engagement, so it is stated if we are not being shot at, we don't shoot them back. and if we ever shopped at we can't shoot back until we get permission. so we always had that going on as well. and the home is behind us, behind that wire there were women and children there.
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guess what, we cannot fire back. so we had that going on as well. the only avenue. [laughter] >> you came pretty close to being hit. >> it was august 7th, very vivid. we just got done that morning around 9:00 because the night before, we were busy with an after action report, and we did this every morning just to make sure and talk about what happened that night or that day to see whether or not we could still improve of what happened. because we were always trying to improve. we did action reports to get
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better to serve our soldiers better so that is what the ar is all about. after we finished i went back to my tent to get a few things and it was a gorgeous day but it was quiet which was unusual. we could feel it starting it's just something is going to happen. don't know when, but it's going to happen. starting the walk back and as i'm walking back i feel a thump
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and it was like slow motion and i'm sure you've heard of that before. i take one more step and feel myself just kind of lifted up and it was like a rag doll but it felt like to hand squeezing and as it's squeezing i'm still being propelled. it's about maybe 2 feet thick and i think it was 20 feet high. what the walls do is on case we do get martyred, it will hit that first. it's like a buffer. so it's in front of the fst. so, i am blocking, i'm being
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propelled and the next thing i see the alaska wall. i can't do anything about it. i don't have anything on. just my uniform and cap and my little cup of coffee. i hit the wall right through here. next thing i know, someone is on top of me and they keep saying are you okay. the only thing i remember is i can't breathe. i think it was because he was laying on top of me. and that was the end of it. that's all i remember. the next thing i know, i'm finally i guess i'm being woken up touring starting to wake up. i'm on the stretcher. the protocol is two straps over the arms and legs. they gave me three. the only reason they gave me three years because i was trying to get up because i didn't know
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what happened, number one, and i was hearing so much chaos around me because of the screening and they yelling, just everything. it isn't quiet anyway because of all the generators, so there's always constant noise, but this is now amplified. i'm trying to get up but i can't move my legs. i can hardly move my arms. so i finally quit and i'm seeing faces looking down at me and it's like what happened. again i can hardly here because the explosion was so big. again, i'm surprised. i lost some hearing on the right side that it was like okay and
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they told me that a vehicle ied exploded. now where we were and it was only a 32nd walk and it was a big water truck that a month prior had been stolen they had taken all the water out and put 3,000 pounds of military grade explosives. this is after i came back and found out about it. but that's what happened. it started exploding at 10:00 that morning then and it exploded at 9:37. there were two people in that truck and the only reason they know all this is because they had this thing in the sky called
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ie in the sky and everything was being videoed. we couldn't stop it unfortunately because what happened is they had afghan he soldiers back there and never stopped the truck. they let it roll behind, which they shouldn't have done and that is how it exploded. basically it cleared 75 feet of the wire open and luckily the rangers were home and had just gone to bed. when it hit, they came out. they were still in their underwear. [laughter] they were ready for war. they were ready to fight. at the 173rd was embedded with us as well. those kids came out fully geared and ran where we were at because
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we didn't know whether or not there were mortality and behind us. so all this is going on. helicopters, apaches, it was just my god, waiting for the medevac and during all this time -- they wouldn't leave many of us out there but when they got martyred they had to run to the bunkers so we were just kind of laying there going okay what's next. luckily it never hit our area. it killed one of their people. none of our unit members were hurt. no americans were hurt. it was their people. again, what is the sense in that. so it was just absolute chaos. the next thing i knew, one of the trauma surgeons came running
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around assessing everybody and basically said you are next. we don't know whether or not your back is broken because of the way i was laying i said i couldn't move my legs. my left leg basically was dislocated by hitting the wall. shoulders were dislocated and i was still trying to figure it out. that's why i couldn't move or anything like that. so anyway, they were finally coming in. i always wanted a helicopter ride but that wasn't the helicopter ride i wanted so there i was under the bird just kind of looking over and as we were lifting up, i could see what had happened and it looked like a huge hurricane had gone through. we lost everything. we totally lost the whole camp. so basically in fact.
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all the shops were blown up. they lost everything. i just laid there and i told them don't worry about me. worry about him. when they asked asked me i knew i wasn't bleeding outwardly. i was talking to him and i thought i'm fine.
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then they got hit same thing. >> how long did it take you. they assessed me right away. there is a thing where as soon you get in there they cut everything off. i was awake by that time and i had a caller on which i didn't even know i had on and i looked
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at the nurses and i said do not cut my uniform off and they said but we need to. i said do not cut my uniform off. they looked at me and said you are a nurse, aren't you? don't cut it off because i knew it was going to happen and i took my uniform off. they did have to cut off my t-shirt and stuff but then the medical kernels came around. so maybe that helped out to. so to make sure there was no internal bleeding or anything like that. i had to lay there for at least six hours but then that's where the headache came and the latinos came.
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then it was like my god. he had to come to find out one of our trauma surgeons, we had to have them, also got hurt. his name was colonel edison. he was from fort bragg. so he was hard-core and he didn't know i was hurt either until i heard him saying some explicit's.
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so the surgeons come through end into the kernels, through and come to find out and the report given to everybody for the colonel for the amputation of the leg which he did not and i had a fractured skull. again because of all the chaos and misinformation so when the kernels came down it was like what are we going to look like. you're fine. yeah, i'm great, just perfect. so i was there for about a week, political. headaches were horrendous to the point i couldn't go outside because the light hurt so bad.
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he was ready to go home and he basically said i'm not going home they also wanted me to go home. the nurses were doing all the paperwork and basically they came up to me and said we are getting you ready to go and i said what for. you got hurt. they don't want you out here because you're hurt. i said i'm fine. they said do you still have ringing in your years because that's one of the big things. of course i did. i lied and said no, the ringing is gone. i can hear you. they said how are your headaches and i said they are just mild now. they were bangers, but i'm fine,
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you know. don't waste your time. i've got to get back. so they talked to the doctor and he said well, all right. so i'm going back. the colonel finds out about this and he says major justice is going back then i'm going back so basically they told him if you can this one by yourself within two weeks, you can go back to the fob. fine. so at the same time though, i had to start putting mine back because they had to put my shoulders back. two, zero my god so bad. but it was like see, i got it, i can do it. i can hear you. i'm great. i'm good to go. i guess we were both the motivation for each other because i would be like you can do it, come on, you can do it
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and he would tell me i could do it. so okay we finally. in two weeks he got his on and luckily came back. so during that time i was gone, the unit members had been hurt but not as bad. they got things up and running, a makeshift within four hours because of the chaos. the people that were around us pretty much picked up as much supplies and medical stuff and put them on bags and then when i finally got back within that week, it was up and running again so i was only there for about 30 more days and of course during that 30 days, we got hammered again. this time though, we didn't have a sleep tent. we had this big thing and it was
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very austere out there because we lost the showers, the latrines, it was crappy out there, literally. >> your injuries didn't make it any easier. >> no. i tried to focus as much as i could but it was hard. reading was hard. i had to wear my sunglasses all the time. the headaches were horrendous. and just picking up, pulling, it was rough. they knew about it but they were so busy themselves it was like i'm not doing the burden on them as well. it wasn't fair. it was rough. >> a lot of the guys thought i wasn't coming back until i called and said come pick me up,
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please. your back? >> i'm back. ischemic great. i was the only nurse so it was pretty stretchy. ischemic tell me about your last couple of days in afghanistan. ischemic the last couple of days pretty much was just trying to keep it together, trying to show the new unit members the transition on what to expect, what's going to happen. to try to guide as much as we could because once you are out there, you are out there by yourself. the biggest thing is we are taboo. the soldiers won't talk to us until they need us. that's okay. that's fine. at first i thought this was kind
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of weird. where they would look at us and go like this because we had patches with the red cross, so they knew who we were. but yeah it was pretty interesting. so just trying to keep it together. plus it was still new. so we had this we have been here before type of deal. the last couple of weeks it was intense. i hate to say it but the last weeks are the most dangerous for people leaving because the guard starts going down. we become complacent a little bit. we have that i don't care, i'm going home mentality and it started to creep up and then it was like okay. or then we had to start to let go, which was hard.
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i mean,, all that training then 11 or 12 months out there and give up our baby to somebody that's new. it was rough. but at the very end it was like we got to give it to them now. we've got to let go. so, one night the combat engineers invited us over to their area and they were up to their eyeballs and basically the commander basically said let it go if we are going to go over to the other side, let it go. that was rough and that was it. and then at 6:00 on september 11, believe it or not, in the morning the first sergeant, i don't know how he
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did it but he got instead of going to the tax entity and cattle drive did everything, they came out of nowhere, got our stuff and we flew to bagram and we were there about a week, again to decompress, just kind of get our stuff together little bit and then flew out to critic for another week to compress and from there we flew to italy to north carolina and finally fort hood and then we were there for another week to give our stuff back and do our paperwork, redeployed back and then we
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drove home back here to georgia. >> would have you been doing since you've been back? >> i took three months off because of the medical. i had to do all that medical stuff and then started a new job at atlanta medical center here in atlanta. i couldn't get away from that. i worked there for almost a year and then decided you know, i can't do or anymore. i'm done. you stayed in the service, correct? >> i'm still in the reserve. i want to get my 20 years. i have seven left. but i want to get my 20 year. i figure i've gone this far, i'm going to finish it out. so from the six to eight in san antonio, i finally decided i
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can't fly back and forth so i needed to find a new home and besides that, i am no longer deployable. i found a non-deployable unit called the 73rd at fort gordon in augusta georgia. so basically, what i do now is called and oc, observe and control. i validate units going out for deployment to make sure they are worthy enough and trained up in order to go out there. i know there's going to be other conflicts. it's not just going to be afghanistan even though as of yesterday, we are no longer at war with afghanistan. so that's what i do now. >> did you learn anything valuable [inaudible] >> just keep your mind open.
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being adaptable to change. i've become a chameleon pretty much. nothing bothers me anymore such as little quirky stuff from everyday living. materialism is out the window. you change and become very humbled. your priorities in life change, tomac. that saying, it is what it is. it's changed my life quite a bit. i used to be very a type personality. now it's whatever. it's not to the extent like i was. even people say i've changed quite a bit. it's more realistic. i am more aware of what goes on around me.
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be adaptable, that's what i've learned. one of the biggest things as an officer i needed to know my soldiers more than just gathering our soldiers, they are enlisted. there is always that little barrier but out there, no. again i'm in a different situation. we are medical, not any other type of unit but we have to work as a team even though the military is working as a team and being in the reserves, this is our job or was my job so again it was a little different. ischemic what advice do you have for any women looking to join the military? >> there's more doors open now which is great.
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there's always going to be a barrier, there's always going to be a good boy's club anywhere you go even in the civilian world, but this gives you a better grasp of how to circumvent a lot of that stuff because there's a little bit more patrolling you could say. but like i said, there's more opportunities for women. at the combat thing i'm going to say it, i was out there. let the guys do it. you can be a truck driver and do this and that, but i don't know, that's my opinion but i'm older. maybe if i was a 20-year-old i would say go for it, but now, no. in hindsight, no. for women, there are so many opportunities. education especially.
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you can do anything you want, you really can. a. >> is there anything else you would like to add? >> i think i've said enough. [laughter] >> it's been an honor and a pleasure to meet you. thank you for taking the time but mostly thank you for your service. >> thank you so much.
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>> on the journey of the remains of an unknown american world war i soldier from france to arlington national cemetery. how did this whole concept of the unknown soldier being honored come about? >> it goes back to the beginning of the mechanization that you expanded during world war i you get a lot more unidentifiable remains. of course you had a lot more about the people really were struggling with the fact that they could not figure out who many of the casualties were so great britain and france in 1920
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very dim unknown soldier in each of the countries and in great britain it was westminster abbey and france was [inaudible]. the u.s. decided to do something similar to that. the idea was started by hamilton of new york who submitted legislation to unknown soldier from the u.s. ischemic i hear the casket is being carried up the capital that is the scene that modern americans will be familiar with similar ceremonies in our time and put on the gear that will make us sway through the streets of washington and over to arlington cemetery. let's watch for just a minute.
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that is where today you see the larger which isn't yet constructed at this moment. and if there are the final shots of the arlington national cemetery much as we see today with so many white headstones marking the graves of the fallen. >> i think it's important to pause for a moment and think about the meaning that the unknown soldier had at this time. it was about world war i, yes, but it was also fault to be a memorial that could connect the different conflicts to stretch beyond and honor all of those that served. if it continues very strongly up through today. you are watching him american history tv exploring the
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nation's past. you can be a part of the national conversation by participating in c-span's student cam video competition. your opinion matters. so, if you are a middle or high school student, we ask you to create a five or six minute documentary that answers the question how does the federal government impact your life? your documentary must show opposing and supporting points of view when a federal policy or program that affects you or your community using c-span video clips that are easy to find and access on c-span student cam duck competition rewards $2,000 in total cash prizes and you have a shot at the grand prize of $5,000. entries must be received before january 20th, 2022. for competition rules are just how to get started, visit the website at student
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