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Spc. Ben Hutto 3rd HBCT, 3rd Inf. Div. PAO
FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER — Ahmed’s whole body shook as Capt. Sayed Ali, from Long Island, N.Y., the surgeon assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, examined him. Ahmed, a 24-year-old cab driver, was driving his cab when an insurgent roadside bomb destroyed his vehicle and left him injured, forcing his father to bring him to Patrol Base Assassin for help.
Ali asked the cab driver to perform a series of movements to determine the severity of his injuries. As the young man strained, his father and the medics of Troop A looked on. Obviously in pain, Ahmed weakly strained to push his head against Ali’s palm.
Ali asked his medics to prepare medication for Ahmed to take home and gave the young man a new cane for better support.
Consultations like these, between Ali and local citizens living around Patrol Base Assassin, are frequent. Medics working for Ali estimate he sees one or two local citizens at the patrol base aid station every day.
“We’ve done everything from treating a common cold to amputated limb rehabilitation,” said Spc. Clifford Overton, from Nashville, Tenn., a combat medic in Troop A. “In many cases, there is only so much we can do because of our supplies here, but we do what we can. The people here need more quality doctors. A lot of patients come to us because they have no other options. They look to us for hope.”
Overton explained that many of the aid station’s patients come because they have no money, they trust that American doctors have more expertise or they have been treated by local doctors with little success.
Whatever the reason, Ali and his medics never turn anyone away.
“One act of kindness can save a world of hurt when it comes to IEDs and things like that,” he said. “An act of kindness can show the people here that we are here to help and prompt them to report things like IEDs. What we are doing here has a big effect on what’s going on out there.”
Ali said Troop A has been receptive to the needs of the people around them since their arrival.
“I think from day one we were open to people coming here,” Ali said. “People here were initially scared of an American patrol base but, as you can see, it has gotten better as word has gotten out. People are now showing up without me having to ask them to come.”
Ali’s willingness and Patrol Base Assassin’s location near the Four Corners market area make it easier for Iraqis to come see him.
“The tactical position of the patrol base is a big factor,” said Spc. Rafik Brooks, Jr., from Keysport, Pa., a combat medic in Troop A. “Everyone knows where we are and that we are reaching out to help them.”
Ali believes the Soldiers he works with are outstanding examples of everything that is right with the Army.
“I think in addition to being the world’s greatest army, we are the world’s most compassionate army,” he said. “You see these huge massive Soldiers and you put them in front of little kids and they become little kids themselves. They look at these children and they see the sons and daughters they haven’t seen in 15 months. All of these guys have very tough exteriors, but also have very big hearts.”
The 3-1 Cav. Regt. is assigned to the 3rd HBCT, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Benning, Ga., and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March 2007.