From the "Saudi Spearhead"
Issue 6 - April 15, 1991
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BELOW, full text of article:


By Spc. Don Parker and Capt. Michael Gollaher
148th Public Affairs Detachment

Departing Spearhead Commander Maj. Gen. Paul E Funk had high praise for "the magnificent human beings" of the Third Armored Division during his final speech as he relinquished command to Maj. Gen. Jerry R. Rutherford. Among those must certainly be numbered the warriors who inflicted such terrible damage on the Republican Guard.

But two of the individuals Funk singled out for special notice won credit for their work after American guns fell silent. Funk cited "Chief Warrant Officers (Ben) Beaoui and (Joseph) Hatch up in Safwan, holding babies and treating them ... Soldiers taking care of people they'd been fighting two weeks before."

Spearhead soldiers know that helping a people whom they had just defeated is no contradiction... So help they did, fust as naturally as they had gone to war weeks before.

Those who don't understand the American soldier might find this odd. But Spearhead soldiers know that helping a people whom they had just defeated is no contradiction. Soldiers join to serve. They proved they were willing to give their lives to free another people from oppression. It is onty a natural extension that they would also give their effort to free people from pain, from hunger, from thirst, from the desperate situation of being in trouble with nowhere to go and with nobody to help.

So help Spearhead soldiers did, just as naturally as they had gone to war weeks before. By the dozens they came to the refugee camps and dime of Safwan - driving ambulances, writing prescriptions, treating wounds, distributing food - not because they had been ordered to, but for the simple reason that it was the right thing to do.

"This is really a grass-roots effort," said Maj. Kenneth Franklin as he directed patients toward aid tents inside the refugee center controlled by 3rd AD's 4th Bn., 32nd Armor south ofSaftvan. "It started at the checkpoints. We saw people coming through with untreated wounds, malnourished, short of food, water and medicine and said 'We can help.' It took off from there."

Starting from the desire to help, requests moved up through the Spearhead chain of command and things started happening. Division efforts coordinated the use of the 109th Clearing Co, the trucks of Charlie Co. from the 503rd Support Bn-, and hospital facilities at the 912th M.A.S.H. Within days, hundreds of refugees began receiving medical aid. At the 4/32 camp alone, the medical teams quickly broke the 400 mark, treating 424 patients in a single day.

That stretched the resources for Capt. Carolyn Sullivan, Capt. Stuart Hetrick, CW2 Thomas Roberson and CW2 Mark Lawrence of Franklin's medical team. "It's about four times what a doctor could expect to handle in a very busy private practice, working overtime," Franklin said. "Part of that's because we don't need to spend time on the paperwork and other things involved in private practice. But the other reason is that there's no choice."

Sending patients away was not an alternative Franklin's team wanted to contemplate. Other than the clinic inside Safwan, "We're running the only medical center south of Baghdad," Franklin said, "Some of these (patients) have walked from south of Baghdad, or left hospitals in Basrah to get here," he said. About half the patients were treated for trauma -- burns, wounds, exposure -- from the war or the deprivation afterward. A third suffered from malnutrition, dehydration or bacteriological disease. Many of the rest were pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children.

Franklin's crew was making sure the refugees got more than a pat on the back and a band-aid. "We've got equipment here for blood tests and X-rays, and Charlie Company runs ambulance service to the 912 MASH for serious cases. Most service you'd get at an outpatient facility back home, we provide here."

And Franklin's team was only part of the Spearhead effort to help the human tide in Southern Iraq. A couple miles up the road, Beaoui and Hatch were inside Safwan, operating from one of the town's buildings. That facility was not inside a 3rd AD perimeter, and running it required an understanding of the community as well as of medical procedures.

When Beaoui and HHC Medic SgL Thomas first entered the community, they found a ruined public health clinic without water, electricity, or glass on the windows. The townspeople had not been able to practice good hygene for some time, and there was no potable water. As a consequence, many people were ill or malnourished, especially children and babies.
Stationing themselves at the ruined clinic and armed only with their aid bags, Beaoui and Thomas began treating the people of the town. They were almost mobbed.

"We were seeing a lot of old injuries due to the war that had never been treated. Some children had been severely injured playing with cluster bombs. Also there were many diseases due to improper sanitation and hygiene," said Beaoui.

Reporting back to the division surgeon, Beaoui and Thomas reported that the people of Safwan desperately needed some medical services. They proposed that, despite its condition, the town clinic be reopened with Spearhead medical staff, equipment and supplies for the people of the town.

But they also proposed that there should be a condition placed on the town for this service. Hatch and Beaoui felt strongly that the townspeople themselves should clean up the clinic first, decide who would be seen for treatment, and ultimately take on the responsibility for the management of the clinic.

The townspeople agreed. Represented at first by "two or three" concerned citizens, the people cleaned the clinic up the best they could. Soon, Spearhead medics were treating hundreds of Iraqi citizens in the town every day.

"The people told me that the first time they saw an American GI in uniform they thought he must be very brutal," said Beaoui. "They thought he might brutalize or even kill them, and they were very afraid of us."

But stories of American compassion soon became well known. Some EPWs even told Beaoui that "since we've been in this desert (since August) no one has treated us better, or with more respect than the American GIs, including the MPs that took us. They gave us food and water and even treated our wounds. They did their jobs real well." Beaoui said the EPWs felt more comfortable and secure with the Americans than with their own people.

Indeed, upon reopening the clinic, more and more people became involved in the rebuilding of their town. Some were very afraid of reprisals for working with the Americans, but decided that the needs of their town came first. Soon people were helping the Americans with other humanitarian ventures, including repairing the town well and joint patrols of the town with the MPs.

"We try to give them just one more day ... one more healthy day," Hatch said concerning the future of the Safwan people.

"Years ago, when I was in Vietnam, I made a commitment to help human beings and alleviate their suffering whenever I could. I'm not a politician or a general, so I don't get involved in any of these political decisions. But as an American soldier, I feel real good that I can help bring a little order and stability into these folks' lives," Hatch said.

Beaoui and Thomas feel much the same way. 'The 3rd Armored Division has a real good reputation in this town now," Beaoui said. "They see what a big heart the American GI has. I want to leave a legacy here of people helping people, no matter who they are or where they are from. It is a humanitarian story here."


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