22 October 2011

Return to Iraq: "My Lieutenant didn't die in vain"

The war in Iraq is over for the United States, but not for the Americans who fought there. CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley reports on a remarkable therapy [Operation Proper Exit] that takes some of the more than 32,000 troops wounded in Iraq back there to confront the events that changed their lives.

Of the eight, returning may have been toughest for Steven Cornford. He left Iraq and was awarded the Silver Star for valor. But they don't give away Silver Stars for nothing. Sitting down with Cornford, you can learn what post-traumatic stress disorder is all about.

Cornford's nightmares are rooted in Easter Sunday 2007, when he was just 18 years old. His platoon assaulted an enemy machine gun nest. He was hit in the left shoulder. His lieutenant, Phillip Neel, sprinted forward to help, but was cut down.

Cornford returned fire and threw two hand grenades into the machine gun nest. Then, he carriet Lt. Neel a mile to a Medevac helicopter that took them both to a field hospital. Neel didn't make it, and Cornford cannot forgive himself.

During his visit, Cornford was heartened to see Iraq returning to normal. It means, he said, "my Lieutenant didn't die in vain."

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