I actually have three greatest moments in my life.
After leaving Saudi Arabia in 1991, we landed in Rome to
refuel. The Italian's had us park at the end of the runway while
they refueled the aircraft with the entire hospital staff
We then flew to Dublin where the Irish allowed the aircraft
to pull up to the terminal but denied the passengers the ability
to leave the aircraft. Outside, gun and anti-armor jeeps circled
the aircraft. Everyone on the aircraft began wondering how we
would be accepted at home, especially Dr. Markall (he was an
infantryman in Vietnam).
The flight from Dublin to New York was silent. We landed at
La Guardia and I stayed onboard the aircraft because we had the
Hospitals 110 defensive weapons stored in the overhead
compartments and I was not going to let a bunch of M16s, 9mms,
and an M203 onto the streets of New York. After a few minutes
Sgt. Terrell returned to the aircraft to take charge of the
weapons. He told me the CO wanted me in the terminal. I entered
the terminal and began to cry, partially from the pain of
traveling with a back injury but mostly from the shock – free
pizza for returning soldiers, free phone calls home. Somebody
had not forgotten us but I wondered how the soldiers left behind
for the clean-up would be treated.
The busses stopped and we formed up into hospital formation.
As I was still suffering from my back injury I stayed at the
back of the formation. When the 1st Shirt started barking
marching orders I just followed as close as I could. Three steps
later my hand was grabbed by my four year old niece. I looked
down into her loving brown eyes and picked her up ignoring the
pain. This was what we served for. As I hobbled to catch up to
the formation other children had broken free from the parent who
had taken care of them during our absence and ran to their
When the CO took control of the formation about
three-quarters of the troops were holding children.