Archive Logo.jpg

May 08, 2006

Stories that only make the local news, at best.

by Sgt. 1st Class David D. Isakson</p>

<p>May 3, 2006</p>

<p>Spc. Corrie Heffner, from the 101st Airborne Division, searches for enemy activity on a highway near Mahmudiyah, Iraq. This photo appeared on

Pics aren't related to the story - I just liked 'em.

Navy doctor comes to Afghan boy’s rescue
By Army Sgt. Nina J. Ramon

345th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

FORWARD OPERATING BASE GHAZNI, Afghanistan — After treating hundreds of casualties during a tour with the Marines in Iraq , and then treating hundreds more during his nine months in Afghanistan, Navy Lt. Cmdr. William Dave Holder thought he had seen it all. An 8-year-old Afghan boy with a medical condition virtually unheard of in the States quickly changed his mind.

Holder, a physician assistant attached to the 3-141 Battalion Aid Station here, normally tends to U.S. service members, Afghan National Army soldiers, Afghan National Policemen and local civilians.

But, the physician assistant permanently assigned to the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, also participates in weekly civilian outreach missions with ANA medics. Holder and the medical team in Ghazni processed nearly 1,000 patients in a few months of work in Afghan clinics. Many of the patients sought medical attention for wounds untreated for extended periods of time because professional care was not available.

During a weekly mission with an ANA medical battalion, Holder was asked by an Afghan doctor to assist with an Afghan boy named Abdul.

“(Abdul) had what appeared to be a piece of wood sticking out of his leg,” said Holder. He soon realized it was Abdul’s shinbone.

Abdul’s story began four months earlier when he first injured his leg. Two months later, he re-injured the leg, causing the shin bone to protrude out of the skin.

“He had a series of injuries to his leg and was hobbling around trying to bear the weight,” said Holder. “It was grossly infected -- bone and skin. I decided I would get him taken care of,” he added.

Special cases such as Abdul’s are normally referred to the provincial reconstruction team medical clinic, according to Holder. In many circumstances, patients are then referred to the Egyptian Field Hospital at Bagram.

Holder felt compelled to personally look after Abdul. He made some phone calls and eventually talked with orthopedic surgeon and Bountiful , Utah , native Dr. Shawn Hermenau at the 14th Combat Support Hospital in Bagram. Hermenau agreed to see Abdul.

It took more than two weeks to get Abdul a flight to Bagram because of bad weather and mission-essential flight requirements. While waiting, Holder paid the cab fare so Abdul and his father could visit the clinic each day to have the wound cleaned and dressed.

When the weather cleared, Abdul and his father traveled to the U.S. hospital in Bagram where they met Hermenau and the rest of the team that would help save his leg.

“When you see a kid that breaks his leg, and you get the chance to help him be able to go out and do kid stuff again,” Holder said smiling, “it gives you a ray of hope.”

Holder believes helping Afghans such as Abdul reinforces the positive relationship between Coalition forces and the local population.

“Abdul is from a known trouble spot in the area of operation, so hopefully this will be a good-news story for them that the Americans treated him well,” said Holder.

Because of his belief in the Coalition mission in Afghanistan and the fulfillment he gets from helping others, Holder says he lives for the satisfaction he receives from each deployment.

“I came to Afghanistan to take care of Soldiers and the people here and I think I did that,” he said. “I’ll come back a third time.”

by Spc. Leslie Angulo</p>

<p>May 8, 2006</p>

<p>Capt. Oscar Corredor, an optometrist from Regional Command South, examines the eyes of an Afghan man in the village of Shari Safa in Qalat Province during a medical outreach mission. This photo appeared on