17 February 2010

30 Days Through Afghanistan interviews doctors and patients at Role 3 hospital

"Numbers Never Again"

I can’t get the experience of meeting Lance Cpl. Edward Swingle, a U.S. Marine wounded in action, out of my head. ...

I am so honored for having met him. He’s such a young man, a true hero and Marine. He was the first wounded I have ever met and while the experience will be burned in my mind, I’m not sure if I would ever want to repeat it. Meeting him was very hard for me. Before I walked in, I kept thinking about how I’m just some reporter, and how I really didn’t want him to think I was trying to use him to make some story. I wanted to respect everything about the situation.

After meeting him, I could only think back to the beginning of my deployment, I helped out on the Joint Operations Center floor, which is the command and control center for all of Afghanistan. It’s an amazing place and they have five massive screens lining one wall. On the center screen, casualties and deaths are listed by country. Every day, I looked at that board and most of the time there were some numbers. There were great days though, when there weren’t any numbers.

The world and I have something in common, everyone sees these numbers, whether it’s on the JOC floor or in the newspaper. Numbers do life no justice. I met a “number” today, and I was ashamed for the period of my life I associated a number to the 20-year-old Edwards out there.

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