Lasting Sacrifices, Enduring Courage

Army Specialist Craig Ivory was the adopted son of Patrick Ivory and was raised by his father and his stepmother, Terri Ivory, this item at Families United informs us:
He graduated from State College High School in Pennsylvania in 1996 where he excelled in a unique blend of extracurricular activities; while he was an accomplished athlete in football and track, he also was a talented musician with the concert and symphonic bands.

Craig’s military career was even more dynamic. He first enlisted in the Army in January 1997. He served in many different roles during his career: he served in the U.S., Korea and Iraq; he reenlisted twice and trained or served as a mechanic, paratrooper, support personnel for an MP unit, a candidate for the Special Forces, and finally, as a medic.

On March 26th, 2003, he was among 1,000 paratroopers from the 173rd dropped into Northern Iraq. He spent five months supporting the field units as a medic. His father recalls Craig’s exchange with an English-speaking Iraqi woman who pleaded with him: “Please don’t go home. We need you to protect us.” Craig consoled her and explained that while they have their own homes and one day would have to leave, “we’re here for you now.”

In the extreme battlefield conditions, including 135 degree heat, Craig suffered a stroke and was transported to Germany, where his father made the difficult decision to remove his life support. Craig had been planning to follow in his father’s footsteps as a physician’s assistant after his military career.

Craig’s father said Craig had a movie quote that he favored as a sort of motto: “What we do in life echoes through eternity.” For Craig, that has especially rung true beginning with his family donating a memorial to his high school and establishing a $1,000 annual scholarship fund in Craig’s memory for members of the military medics wanting to pursue a career as a physician’s assistant. ...

Patrick Ivory explains that he felt compelled to join Families United after an incident with a reporter. He claims the reported totally spun his words and characterized his sentiments inaccurately to serve their agenda. “The media only reports the negative and the sensational. The positive information is never shared with America.”

“What we do in life echoes through eternity.” I like that. Take a moment to reflect on Craig's commitment and idealism, and think about what his words. As you already know, I am a combat vet and I lost several friends in the Desert Storm Iraq/Kuwait campaign in 1991. I hope more Americans will take the trouble to learn about our experiences, and why we do what we do.

Brave women are making sacrifices at the frontlines too, Donna St. George at the Washington Post reminds us.
Her body had been maimed by war. Dawn Halfaker lay unconscious at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, her parents at her bedside and her future suddenly unsure. A rocket-propelled grenade had exploded in her Humvee, ravaging her arm and shoulder.

She is one of 11 women combat amputees.
They have discovered, at various points of their recovery, that gender has made a difference -- "not better or worse," as Halfaker put it, "just different."

For Halfaker, an athlete with a strong sense of her physical self, the world was transformed June 19, 2004, on a night patrol through Baqubah, Iraq. Out of nowhere had come the rocket-propelled grenade, exploding behind her head.

The article continues,
The Iraq war is the first in which so many women have had so much exposure to combat -- working in a wide array of jobs, with long deployments, in a place where hostile fire has no bounds. In all, more than 370 women have been wounded in action and 34 have been killed by hostile fire. ...

n the hospital, female combat amputees face all the challenges men do -- with a few possible differences. Women, for example, seem to care more about appearance and be more expressive about their experiences, hospital staff members said. Among the women, there also was "a unique understanding or bond," said Capt. Katie Yancosek, an occupational therapist at Walter Reed.

The advent of female combat amputees has left an enduring impression on many hospital staff members. "We have learned not to underestimate or be overly skeptical about how these women will do," said Amanda Magee, a physician's assistant in the amputee care program. "Sometimes they arrive in really bad shape, and people are really worried. . . . But we've learned they can move on from a devastating injury as well as any man."

Go to the link to read about Juanita Wilson, and how she balances soldierhood and motherhood. And don't miss this:
On that winter morning, Wilson had already tied her combat boots, her right hand doing most of the work and her prosthetic holding the loop before it is tied. "I want it to be known that just because you're a female injured in combat, you don't have to give up your career and you don't have to look at yourself as disabled," she said.

She added: "I haven't met any female soldier yet who feels she shouldn't have been there."