Man: an angel

I’m working on a manuscript for a friend who served as a combat medic, four tours, two in in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. This is a non-fiction story, so to familiarize myself, I researched how improvements in medical care and the presence of a medic affected to mortality rate during combat. I looked at all of our conflicts, all the way back to the Revolutionary War. If a space is blank, then no record exists. Notice the disparity in battle deaths and other deaths.

Just food for thought. Ref – American War and Military Operations Casualties: List and Statistics

# Serving    Total Deaths    In Battle   Other Deaths    Wounded

  • Revolution                              4435              4435                                       6188
  • War of 1812     286,730         2260              2260                                       4505
  • Mexican War      78,718        13,283           1733              11,550             4152
  • Civil War           2,213,363     364,511       140,414          224,097           281,881
  • (Union only)
  • Spanish-US     306,760           2446              385                  2061               1662
  • WWI            4,734,991          116,516        53,402            63,114               204,002
  • WWII          16,112,556        405,399        291,557          113,842              670,846
  • Kore             5,720,000           36,574           33,739             2835                 103,284
  • Vietnam      8,744,000           58,220           47,434           10,786                303,644

Are you wondering? Me too. Some were fought horseback and afoot, including WWI when the world was only 2% mechanized. The world geared up for WWII. We were 98% mechanized.

Do you know why Japan bombed Pearl Harbor? Where was Erwin Rommel going in north Africa? Why did Hitler invade Poland and make a beeline for the Baku?


I’m aged, (but not too ripe yet,) and as young man who had to register for the draft right at the end of the Vietnam War, I heard protesters chant (they chanted back then) about the white man forcing the black man to go to Vietnam to die for him.

Vietnam Total deaths = 58,220.    Black = 7243    White = 49,826   Other = 1146

What does all of this have to do with medics? Heck I don’t know.

Michael Shaara wrote “Killer Angels.” Won the Pulitzer. It’s about the Battle of Gettysburg. Brilliant.

Man is an angel, but he’s the “Killer Angel.”



Job duties had me running on 5 to 6 hours of sleep a night for the past few days. Last night, I retired at 9:00, relatively confident that “duty” would let me sleep until 4:30. Somewhere in the sleep process the rig phone in my room rang. I answered a still wet shower shoe, a pair of Crocks, a TV remote and my reading glasses before I found the receiver. The clock displayed 9:40.

The other day I told a young lady she should refrain from using the word sucks. Vacuum was more appropriate. Forty minutes of sleep pulls a heavy vacuum.

Been listening to some of our political discourse. Immigrants, illegal immigrants, socialism, give-me, give-me, give-me. My goodness. Get a job, Spanky. Better yet, get a pair of gloves and get you some drilling rig. Twelve hours on deck or pulling slips on the floor in 95-degree heat and 98% humility will test your mettle. Notice the word after 98%. It’s applicable.

Speaking of humility.

Uri was born in Cuba. His momma loved the Russians—mostly KGB and military advisers—who came there in the 50s and 60s, thus his name. He was 18 and had had a belly full of communism. One night he and his best friend and their girlfriends shared a bottle of rum and decided they’d flee to the US. Over the next couple of months they pieced together a raft consisting four 55-gallon drums held together by re-bar and decked with wood. They ferried the components to the coast on their bicycles in the dark of the night and hid them in the jungle. Then again, after another bottle of courage, they pedaled to the coast, assembled their boat, and set sail. The four of them floated on the ocean waves at the mercy of the wind and currents and God for 17 days, surviving on peanut butter. Uri spent 2 years in a Florida prison. That was forty years ago. He runs a commercial dive company and has not eaten peanut butter since.

Rene’ was 17 in 1977. He was also Cuban. The Cuban coastguard turned him back the first three times he tried to float his way to the US mainland. The fourth time he had it figured out. He lashed three large tractor inner tubes together and decked them with wood. He mounted a tree limb onto the decking and sheeted it with a couple of blankets. Even had a tiller. Must have worked well because he had to weight down the backend with rocks to keep the wind from capsizing his craft. Ten souls on various contraptions pushed out into a small river near where he lived late one night and were carried to the coast and out to sea. Rene’ ran his craft solo. Three days later, only three of them made landfall. Rene’ went to school and earned a degree in computer science and went to work at Ford Motor Company in Detroit designing cars. When he was laid off, he moved to the Gulf coast and got a job in the oilfield.

Of the three that made it to land, only Rene’ survives. Poor decisions regarding the drug trade and the use of drugs took the other two. Three days at sea on a boat floated by Firestone rubber cured Rene’ of his thirst for coconut juice. I mentioned Rene WAS Cuban. Now he’s American. Just ask him.

I have not seen Uri in several years, but I’ll bet money he’s doing just fine. Rene’ is out here with me right now, making a hand.