Saturday, December 30, 2006

Docs Duty: Texas and Afghanistan

I felt fortunate to be meeting Doc Duty at Aaron's posthumous Silver Star ceremony on July 22, 2005 in Amarillo, TX. I mean fortunate in every sense of the word. Doc drove in his own car from Chicago, I think it was. I do remember him saying he finally pulled over and slept for a little while in his car in OKC, but outside of that, there'd been very little rest during a twenty-four hour drive.

The night before the ceremony, I remember him sitting slightly across from me at a long table topped with the typical Texas red and white checkered BBQ cloth. Ribs, brisket and chicken, enough animal protein to cause PITA to pass out or Oprah to OPT out, was served on huge platters, passed up and over faces and around backs and between elbows of Marines and the family they were in Texas to pay tribute to. Sides included cole slaw, potatoe salad and more slaw. Not enough sides, well then, how about a side of beef? Slaughtered, dressed and packaged by morning.

This is Texas!

Aaron would've loved it.

Doc Duty and Sgt. Rett sat next to each other and had their food downed before I even got my plate. It tickled me then, and I was reminded of what my drills used to holler out in the chow hall at Basic Training, "Inhale, exhale, you should be through!"

It tickled me because they reminded me of Aaron. So full of life.


At times, I'd look toward those faces that I can picture so well right now, even at this late or early hour. It brings tears to my eyes as I remember the two, now as well as then, deep friends, brothers, laughing and joking and telling the tales of combat, and occassionally, blinking back tears.

I'm sure the moisture in their eyes was for their losses, their missing friends, and the huge family they now found themselves surrounded by, stealing glances at them. Marveling at them....

Currently, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Jason “Doc” Duty is with the Navy ETT (Embedded Training Team) 620A in Afghanistan. Doc has been at Camp Phoenix since Nov 15th 2006 and will be going home about the first of December 2007. It’s a year long tour.

When I asked Doc how this duty came about, he wrote, “I spent 3 1/2 years with Aaron's unit out in Camp Pendleton, and then transferred to the Corpsman school to be an instructor. During my time there, the Navy asked for experienced Corpsman to come here and train the ANA (afghan national army) medics. Me being experienced in Iraq and being an instructor, I was a shoe-in for the job.”

There are five Instructors at Camp Phoenix. They travel to the different ANA training camps and conduct classes for their medics there. Camp Phoenix in Kabul is Doc Duty’s "permanent" base for the next eleven months.

Doc is from New Concord, Ohio and has a four year old son he misses deeply. He’s served in the Navy for six years and his pay grade is E-5.

The next time we join Doc, we’ll look at some photos he emailed me of the work his unit is doing there. We’ll also get his take on one of the differences between the Iraqis and the Afghanis when it comes to fighting terror.

Until then, Cowboy, oops, I meant, Corpsman Up!
Semper Fi!

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