Theater Hospital Wall Preserves Memory, Sacrifice
(March 28, 2010)
Names and messages are scribbled on the wounded warrior wall at the contingency aeromedical staging facility at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
USAF photo/Master Sgt. Linda C. Miller
||JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq (3/24/2010 - AFNS) --
The 20-by 30-foot flag thousands of patients
have passed under on their way to the Air Force
Theater Hospital at Joint Base Balad often is
photographed in military circles. But lesser
known, though no less poignant, are the walls of
the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility's
Hundreds, possibly thousands, of messages have
been scrawled on the walls by patients passing
through Joint Base Balad on their way to
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
From all parts of Iraq and with every imaginable
injury, patients spend anywhere from a few hours
to a few days here awaiting aeromedical
The messages, some inked in shaky handwriting,
offer thanks to the CASF staff, remembrances of
fallen comrades and prayers for the future. The
walls are such a historical part of Operation
Iraqi Freedom that they're set to be
photographically preserved and submitted to the
National Museum of Health and Medicine or the
National Museum of the United States Air Force
at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Some
planners even have their sights set for a
Smithsonian Institute museum.
"Museums are places we visit to learn about
history and about human development," said Lt.
Col. Connie Day, the chief nurse of the CASF.
"These walls offer a snapshot in time that will
reflect both in the years to come."
A person could spend hours reading the many
notes, such as "R.I.P. PFC Harley Andrews, 11
Sept 06 Ramadi, Sappers in TF Dagger"
and "A Co, 1/14th, 25th ID, Angels of Mercy."
More than 23,000 patients have passed through the CASF in
just the last three years. The facility started in tents,
but in late 2006 was built into a hardened shelter, and
leaving messages on the walls began as part of a cathartic
process, Colonel Day said. |
"As mother of four, it seemed odd at first to hand over
markers and say, 'Go ahead. Write on the walls,' but when
you take a minute to read, you can feel the pain of people
living with loss," Colonel Day said.
Planners are in talks with several museum entities and while
the ultimate fate of the walls and their reflection on the
history of a war is undecided, the CASF remains an oddly
eloquent memorial at Joint Base Balad.
USAF Maj. April Conway|
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Air Force News Service
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