From the "Saudi Spearhead"
Issue 7 - May 1, 1991
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  3rd Armored Chief Warrent Officer Ben Beaoui counsels an Iraqi refugee about medicaion dispensed at the Safwan Clinic. (PAO photo)

BELOW, full text of article:


By Cpt. Michael Gollaher
148th Public Affairs Detachment

"Medics are like firemen," observes Sgt Sergio Nino, a medic from Charlie Co., 4th BIL, 32nd Armor. "We spend most of our time training and working on our equipment instead of people. But we're there when you need us."

Fortunately for the Spearhead Division, most medics spent much more time treating Iraqi EPWs than our own soldiers.

"It was nothing you'd expect from a ground war, but we were ready," says Chief Warrant Officer Ben Beaoui, physician assistant at the division main command post' "I'm the happiest man on this earth," he says for not seeing so many American casualties.

On the other hand, he spent a whole evening treating 30 Iraqi prisoners. For three days and two nights, they had been force-marched from the Saudi border in a "tactical withdrawal" Most had no shoes. They were thirsty, hungry, dirty and scared, according to Beaoui, a native of Kairouan, Tunisia, who speaks Arabic.

The Iraqis did not expect such kindness from the Americans, said Beaoui. The enemy prisoners were surprised when Command Sgt. Maj. Joe Hill gave them blankets and cigarettes.

"We showed them the human side of the American soldier " Beaoui said. "They were really happy to see us."

One EPW was so happy to be treated for a shrapnel wound by Spec. Michael C Gindra, a Chicago native attached to HHC of the 4/32 Armor. Gindra said, "He put his arms around me and tried to kiss me."

Most Iraqi EPWs were pretty hungry and ragged. Some had shrapnel injuries. Most had blisters or sores caused by an inability to perform proper personal hygiene for months. Some werevery well educated, including masters degrees in French or engineering. Others were bewildered 16 and 17-year-olds who were taken directly from their homes to the field.

Medics from 2nd Bn., 3rd Field Arty. had an especially touching experience. They saved the life of a young Iraqi named Lamiz. He had collapsed and stopped breathing from the utter exhaustion of being forced to march for four days from Kuwait without any food, water or shoes. He had been severely beaten by his officer for refusing to shoot Kuwaiti children. When he finally gained consciousness and overcame his initial fears, he was grateful to the point of tears, even offering the medics all the Iraqi money he had in his pocket.

Unfortunately, not all Spearhead medics had such a positive experience. A few had still had to treat their fellow soldiers and friends who had fallen in the battle.

"I was on CQ the day the scouts from 4/32 drew their weapons for Iraq," recalled Nino. "I remember saying to myself, 'I wonder how many of these guys are going to make it back'" Now he knows. The thought came back to haunt him the night he drove his medical track past a burning T-72 tank that had engaged a Bradley Scout Vehicle and crew.

"I wasn't sure how I'd react or handle myself before this," says Gindra, who treated the injured with Nino. "They were friends of mine. But when I got there, I just did what I knew I had to do. It wasn't fun, but I learned a lot. I just did what I knew I had to do."

They did keep two of the three wounded scouts alive that night. But one died in Nino's arms just as they were approaching the battalion aid station.

"It really hit me later, after we were clear of enemy fire," he said somberly. "I got sentimental about it, you know, and I asked myself a lot of hard questions."

"I hope I never have to do something like this again," he says of his experience. "I got my combat medical badge and a Bronze Star for valor, but I'd give 'em back in a heartbeat if it would bring those guys back."


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