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Kathleen Korbel - A Soldier's Heart

Kathleen Korbel - A Soldier's Heart

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Published by Jahaine Reid

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Published by: Jahaine Reid on Mar 31, 2013
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08/16/2014

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ASoldier'sHeart
KathleenKorbel
SilhouetteIntimate Moments#602October1,1994ISBN:0373076029
   Prologue
Thechoppersappearedjustafterthesun.ThestaffattheNinety-firstEvacHospitalatChuLaihadbeenexpectingtheone,hadn'thopedtoseetheother.Afterall,itwasmonsoonseason,andtherainssimplydidn'tstop.Theypouredinthewindowsandshortedoutthepowersupply.TheyturnedtheVietnamesedirttoariverofmudthatseepedthroughsandbagsandslidinunderdoorsandcakedontoeverythingtheytouched.Theypummeledthetreesandswampedtheroadsandoverwhelmedthesenses.Itwasthemonsoons,andbyrightsthingsshouldhavebeenslow.TheNVAneverquitesawitthatway.Andsothechoppersstillcame.Thisdawnbroughttheminflocks,stutteringtheirwayinfromthenorth,fromthewestandfromthesouth.Thesun,breakingthroughthecloudsovertheChinaSea,glintedgoldandcrimsonontheishiveringblades.Ontheground,triageteamswaitedinsidethedoorslabeledEmergencyaslongastheycould,huddledagainstthethreatofanewdownpour,bentwiththeweightofmorecasualties.TheQuonsethutsthatlinedupbehindthemonthebarrenbaseonthecliffsattheedgeoftheoceanwerealreadyfull.Pre-op
 
wasfull,andtheORwasfull.TheICUswerestanding-roomonly,andthechopperstotakethetransfersoutthatwouldmakeroomwerelate.Itwasthemonsoons,andnothingwentrightinthemonsoons.Atthesamemomentthefirstdust-offchopperlanded,ateamranfromtheprotectionofthedoors,crouchedbeneaththeblades,theirclothingandhairflattenedintherotorwash.MedicsandnursesanddoctorshelpedpulllittersofftheHueysandsettledthemontogurneysfortheirridethroughthemazeof         evacmedicine.Someofthemenwereconscious,theirfacespinchedandsmallwithpain.Some,blood-soakeddressingscocooningheads,laysilentandominous.Nonecriedoutorwhimperedastheyweremoved.One,however,talked.Hegrabbedthenursewhowascheckinghimandbeggedforherhelp."Myradioman,"hepleadedinavoicethatwashuskyfromthewoundstohischestandabdomenandleg."Getmyradioman.Icanwait.Gethim...hewasnexttome...please.He'shurtbad.YougetSmitty."Thenursegentlypriedtheman'sfingersfromherarmandheldtheminherhandassheassessedhiswounds.HewasaMarine,shethought,althoughitmadenodifference."It'sokay,Sergeant.Somebody'stakingcareofhim.""No,"hedemanded,hisvoicerisingevenasthebloodsoakedthegurneybeneathhim."Youcansavehim."Asshehelpedrollthegurneyintothereceivingarea,sheliftedthesoaked,dirtydressingonthesoldier'schestandwinced."Howlongwereyouswimminginthatricepaddy,Sergeant?"sheasked,hervoiceasgentleasherblueeyes.Thesoldierneversawthebriefflashofhorrorinherexpressionattheextentof         hisinjuries.Hiseyeswerebandaged,aswell."Allnight,"heanswered,hisvoicedyingalittle."Wegotcaught,butIheldontohim.Don'tworryaboutme.CheckSmitty.Please...checkSmittyforme.I'mnotgonna...I'mnotgonnamakeit.Yougethim."Thenurselookeduptocatchtheeyeofamedicacrosstheroom.Hewaswheelinganothergurney behindtheyellowpartition.Onthegurneylaythesergeant'sfriend.Theonehe'dspentthenight protectinginthericepaddy.Thefriendwhowasbeingisolatedbecausehewasgoingtodieandtherewasnothingtheycoulddotohelphim."Isheokay?"thesergeantasked.Thenursenoticedthatthesergeantwasabigman.Wellbuilt,probablyanathlete.Hehadaclean,strong       jawbeneaththatfieldbandage,avoicethatwouldprobablycommandmenwell.Ayoungvoice.Avoicetooyoungtodie.Butthen,sheimagined,sodidtheradiomannamedSmittywhohadjustdisappearedbehindthescreenthathidthoselabeledExpectant."Ican'tseehim,"shelied,andturnedtohermedic,whowasintheprocessofcuttingthesergeant'suniformaway."Hey,Humbug,tossmetheblood-drawingequipment.IneedanotherIVinhim.AndtellDocSchaefferhe'sgonnaneedacoupleofchesttubesandbigantibioticsbeforewecanriskOR."Thesergeantwouldlosesomeofhisintestines.Hewouldprobablylosehisspleen,maybepartofhis
 
liver.Ifhewaslucky,he'dendupwithbothlungsintactaftertheydrainedallthebloodandairandpusoffthemfromthepseudomonasinfectionhe'dbeenbreedinginhisinjuriesduringthenighthe'dlaininthe paddywaterwithhisfriend.Ifhewaslucky,he'dkeephisleg,whichwasalreadyswollenanddark.Thatwasifhelived.Thenursehadn'tevenhadachancetoassesshisheadyet.Forsomereason,shecouldn'tbeartoliftthatdressingandseewhathadhappenedtotherestofthathandsomeface.Hewaswearingareligiousmedalofsomekindonhisdogtagchain.Maybethatwouldhelphim.Shewasn'tsureshecould."Sergeant?"Hisgripwaslooseningfromhers.Sheletgoandgrabbedastethoscopetogethispressure."Damnit,Sergeant,don'tdothistome!"Hewasastrongman.Butthen,they'dallbeenstrongmenwhenthey'dcometothiswar."I'mnot...gonna...makeit…""Ohyes,youare,"shedisagreedevenwhenshegotareadingoffiftyoverthirty."Humbug,getmethatIV!"sheyelled,snappingatourniquetaroundhisarm."Pumpinthefluidsandgetmeacoupleofunitsof         Oneg.AndgetSchaefferdownherewiththosechesttubes!""It's...okay,Lieutenant…"Hisvoicewasfading,justlikehisbloodpressure.Shehithim.Rightonthejaw.Justtogethisattention."No,itisnotokay,Sergeant.Youstaywithme,youhear?""Ican't…I…""You'renotdyingonme,mister.Youhearthat?IforfeitpointsifIloseasergeant,andI'mbehindtoomanypointstodayasitis."Hegrinned.Heactuallygrinned."Sorryto...disappointyou...I'mjust...tired….""Youarenotdyingonme."Shedidn'tknowwhythisonematteredsuddenly.Afterall,she'dalready beenondutyforfourteenhours.Shedidn'tforeseeintroducingherselftoabedanytimesoon.Itwasmonsoonseason,andtodaythatmeantmasscasualties.She'dbeenhandlingonepatientafteranotheraslongasshecouldremember,blasted,bleedingbodiesthathadoncebeenstrongandhealthyandalive.Silentghoststhatdisappearedbehindtheyellowpartitionandnevercameout.Soshecouldn'tsaywhythisonefiredherup,buthedid."Youarenotdyingonme,"shesaidevenashis blooddrippedsteadilytothefloor,ashisfeverskyrocketed,astheyinsertedtubeaftertubeintohimandflushedhimwithantibioticsandmorethanthirtyunitsofblood.Evenaftertheylosthimandbroughthim backfourdifferenttimesintheOR."Youhearme?"shedemandedtohissilent,swathedformasitlayinICUthreedayslater,rackedwiththefeversofmassiveinfection.Ashewokelatertofindtheextentofhisinjuriesandtriedtopulloutall

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