Dr. Richard Jadick knows what it's like to be "On Call in Hell."
The Navy doctor's book by that title pulls the reader into America's bloodiest urban warfare since Vietnam. It was late 2004, and Jadick insisted that his makeshift emergency room be in the middle of the bloodbath known as the Battle of Fallujah in Iraq.
At 38, Jadick didn't have to be there. Before earning his medical degree, he'd already served seven years in the Marine Corps. When he volunteered to serve as surgeon for the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, he left his wife and baby girl at home.
"Patients on the battlefield bleed," he told me by phone this week. "They bleed, and that's what they die from. People act so surprised that we wanted to be positioned so we could get to anyone within a couple of minutes. They say the doctor's too valuable to be on the front. But if I'm not out there doing all I can to protect them, why bring me?"
He writes that quick response time can determine whether a Marine comes home in a box or in a seat. It's calculated that the Forward Aid Station in the heart of Fallujah saved the lives of 30 Marines.
Jadick got home in one piece, with a Bronze Star with Combat V for valor. He was on the cover of Newsweek magazine as "Hero MD." He and his wife now have three children. He heads the Division of Urology at Naval Hospital, Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla. He plans to retire next year.
What cannot retire is his haunting knowledge of an ongoing war that has a low death rate but high injury rate.
"Some of their injuries are catastrophic," Jadick said. "Their lives are instantly changed, physically and mentally."
That's why he's a founding board member of the Independence Fund in Beaufort. It will stage the second Lt. Dan Weekend Sept. 14 to 18 to honor and support 100 wounded warriors and their families, who will be hosted cost-free.
Jadick will tell his story here twice next week at fundraisers for Lt. Dan Weekend.
Judy Larkin of Hilton Head Island, who is helping to organize an island event, went to last year's Lt. Dan Bike Ride at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.
"One of the riders had no legs and one arm," she said. "After seeing that, my life has not been the same."
Jadick said, "We as a society cannot forget them. They were there when we needed them. They're still here. We still owe them our care, our ability to reach out to them. It's not that we can understand what they face, but we can try."
Even if we weren't on call in hell, we're still on call.
Follow columnist David Lauderdale at www.twitter/ThatsLauderdale.
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