- Pages: 9
- Word count: 2017
- Category: Degree
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It was April 2010 at Florida State University’s Ruby Diamond Concert Hall. The room was silent except for the honorable sound of the American Anthem announcing it was the beginning of our graduation ceremony. Closing my eyes, I could feel the proud vibes from every single person in the auditorium. Some were sobbing, and others hummed along to the song. I took a deep breath and felt I had finally lead my life into the right direction. I was so proud of it, including going into boot camp in just two weeks. I almost choked when I realized I had not told my mother of such decision I made weeks earlier. Just the thought of it made me forget I was celebrating such an important moment in my life. But, as the fear struck me, everyone started applauding with excitement and all the chit-chat started. Hours later, as the ceremony concluded, we walked outside to celebrate our achievement with our families. My mother had the biggest smile I have ever seen on her face in years.
She rushed to where I was and hugged me very tight, as she handed me a beautiful single green rose, as she always compared to me, because I was to her a beautiful, brave only child. She told me how this moment reminded her what she felt at her graduation back in 1991, when she became a microbiologist technician. It was her proudest moment; even though my mother and father both graduated with Associates Degree in medicine I was the first one in the family to achieve a Master Degree in medicine. I guess the passion for medicine runs in our blood. She invited me to go celebrate the special occasion at our favorite restaurant. Later that evening, as we were enjoying a delicious Japanese dinner, I realized it was maybe not the right time, but the moment came and I needed to tell my mother I would be leaving soon.
But, who was I fooling? I knew there was ever going to be a right time to deliver this news. Suddenly, I had a memory of nine years earlier. A tall man, with a lugubrious expression and onyx suit knocked at our house front door. All I could see was my mother looking at me with anxious, distressed eyes and closing the door behind her. Our family as a whole was suffering economically. My father still, as an intern, was barely making fourteen U.S dollars an hour and had an approximate debt of $96,000 in student loans. He decided it was the right time to join the military, and so he did, even though he did not qualify to be an Officer, he took his position as a corpsman – known as a paramedic in civil world- and left my mother and I behind to give us a better life. Only five months later, after my father got deployed, was this soaring man knocking our door, giving my mother the most sickening update about my father; his death. It was a colossal loss, and tragedy for us both, but nine years have passed and my mother now seems happy, at least five minutes before I told her my biggest decision.
As I told my mother with a spooked feeling in my voice, I could see how her face went in complete shock as she knew I would never joke with her about something like that. With all the air in her lungs, she started lecturing me, how it was such a horrible decision, and if it wasn’t enough for me to have lost my father. “I will not lose you the same way I lost your father” she sobbed. “You will not lose me, I promise” was all I had to say as I opened the restaurant door for her in our way out. Over a year later, in Japan, It had been about six month that I hadn’t had a word with my mother. She had the hope I will not pass my boot camp section, but my success was not good news to her, and she decided she did not want to know about any of my journeys in such a miserable place, or what I called my job. I know very deep in her heart she wanted to know about me, so I decided I should write a letter to her. In that letter, I explained how I was approved as an Officer due to my Master’s Degree and how boot camp was easier than my father used to describe in his letters.
I also added the upcoming event that will change my life. Earlier in that month of July, I got orders that I would deploy to Jordan and to make things “less” frightening I would be in charge, the leader of an X trauma unit at the clinic. Even though I was facing a hard and shocking reality, I did not feel alone because two of my dearest friends were getting deployed to the same place. Four months later at the Naval clinic in Jordan, things were not going well outside. It was a full moon night and I felt how tense the situation was. We were getting soldiers who were dehydrated, with acute injures, and exhaustion. Since I was in charge and more patients started coming in, I had to divide my four-personnel unit and made a plan chart. I gave two Corpsmen, one of them, Jess Clark, one of my friends, the patients with acute urgency and emergencies, as I and other (MO) Medical officer took charge of the most intense to severe degree injures.
I was helping my friend with one of her patient who had a swollen ankle that had previously got stuck in-between a hidden branch, when a sudden chaos started. As I rushed to the door, I saw two men covered in blood laying on their stretcher carried by two other field corpsmen whose eyes screamed more fear than their own words. As we all four rushed to aid this two severe injured men, I hear Jess, my friend shout, “Officer you need to see this!” As I rushed towards her, I almost knew what I was going to see, or to better say, who I was going to see. It was like I could read her mind, and I was right. It was my best friend, lying on that bed. I have known him for three years, even before joining, he as my father realized that his degree was not giving him enough money, joined. We stayed in touch more than ever after I told him I will be joining, too.
He was always there supporting my decision, and always talked to me how hard of a job it was, but it was very rewarding. “Rodriguez, Rodriguez” I loudly screamed, hoping to get a response or at least an ant move from him, but nothing. I ordered the rest of the crew to assist the other injured soldier, knowing it was not right, for me to take charge of a friend or family member, but only Jess knew, and I knew she wouldn’t rather anyone else but me to save him. I reached for his pulse, right in his neck, to make sure he was alive. It was weak, but he had a pulse, and luckily his airway was not obstructed, he just seemed in shock and unresponsive. I immediately cut his uniform with my medical scissors and grabbed some gauze that were soaked in a sterile solution and started cleaning him in order to find the source of the bleeding.
I immediately noticed an open wound in his right leg, and thought to myself that the wound could not be the source where all that blood in his “camo” was coming out. I called Clark over for her to assist me. “I need you to start an (IV) intravenous line on him STAT, and get clean gauze and apply gentle pressure to the wound in the right leg to stop the bleeding.” I ordered Jess. It was necessary for her to move as fast as a lightning in order to keep him alive and prevent blood clotting. In the meantime, I kept looking for more injures and finally found where the major bleeding was coming from, and noticed something was missing, his left index finger, he had suffer a traumatic amputation. I raised his hand and hold it against my chest since I need it my two hands to put a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. As I was wrapping him in some blankets, trying to keep him as warm as possible, I noticed his right hand was closed, like holding something. It took me and Jess to open his hand, and what we discovered next was gold.
He had kept his lost finger and probably that was the cause of shock. Jess rushed to get some ice, Ziploc bags and damp gauze. A technique she learned while in Corps school. She grabbed the finger, wrapped in the gauze and sealed in the Ziploc, finally submerging it the ice cold water. Right there, as the unit leader, I had to make the most difficult decision because of his condition. He needed surgery as soon as possible and needed to be transferred to a hospital. I remembered how much it hurt knowing that I could not help him further. As we were moving out for his transfer, we heard a boisterous roar coming from the hallway dividing the X unit and Z unit. We all instantly dropped to the floor in fear, and looked into each others eyes, confused of what had happened.
As I went through my months of boot camp in my head, I remembered how the Geneva Convention Law of Land Warfare protected us, the medical facility, from attack, as an enemy has to notify before attack so we in a way had time to evacuate. “But really?” then they would not be the called enemies, but compassionate fellows sharing different ideas than ours. Due to my leadership, I felt it was my job to protect my patients and crew, so I crawled to the door with my black, heavy, and long service rifle M-16 caliber 5.56mm in hand, seeking some answers. As I made my way through the hallway, where the sound came from, I looked up to the window and saw a shot mark, “How is this even possible?” not noticing I was actually talking out loud.
Our clinic was actually a few miles off the enemy lines. Suddenly, I had the scared of my life as a sergeant walked next to me, and shout my name, “Officer it is not a good time to proceed with the transfer, an enemy have reached our perimeter, but has been captured.” he said. I remembered lying flat on the floor, with the rifle on my chest and I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and started thinking about my mother’s concerns of losing me, and how my father lost his life while deployed. I gradually opened my eyes after listening to the most beautiful voice I had ever heard, singing the American Anthem. I saw standing in front of me, a straight line of honorable men, who fought with pride and honor for our safety.
It was now August 2012 and I was given the honor to pin Purple Heart at the welcome ceremony, a medal awarded in the name of the United States President, to those wounded or killed in any action against an enemy. To my luck, between one of them, there he was, a healthier, indexless, true warrior, patiently waiting for me to honor his bravery, E4 Rodriguez. As the ceremony concluded, we walked to the crowd where my friend, Jess, was standing and pointing to the distance, as I cleared my eyes, watery from all the emotions, I saw my mother, once again, with her arms wide open, waiting for a hug, holding in her right hand, a single green rose.