You Can’t Debride Some Memories


While in the Air Force, before the Marine Corps, I was called up by my squadron commander, Capt. Smith to help out at Brooke Army Medical Center because I had paramedic training. They had received a fight from Okinawa of 20 or 25 Marines severely burned in a JP4 fuel fire. Between studies and drills, I reported to the Army’s premier burn center to assist in debriding the dead or necrotic skin from these injuries.

The duty left me mentally scarred but gave me the desire to become a Jarhead myself, though I had no idea of this then. Odd, I know.

Then my wife came home from work with a deep burn to her left upper arm. She refused to go to the hospital, leaving it up to me to clean and dress.

While I did my best for her, she will have one hell of a scar once it heals. Third-degree burns are like that.

It was hard not to think about how those Marines sang the Marine Corps Hymn at the top of their lungs and shouted encouragement to one another as they endured the scrubbing and picking until raw, healthy flesh was all that showed.

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