Wednesday, July 29, 2015

 I had the privilege of assisting neurosurgeon -- "at-my-own-expense" -- Dr. Sid Tolchin in many operations which embedded in me a deep respect. No sense of humility by him should deprive humanity of his and the linked report. We need awareness of such people.

Sid reports:
I don't want to detract from this wonderful story, but it brought to mind vividly a personal vignette that I had almost forgotten.
It was in September, 1990.  I was at a significant personal crossroad and with a very busy practice but was still on USN Reserve status.
The Kuwait invasion had started by Saddam Hussein and Desert Storm/Desert Shield had not yet been formulated but was in early stages.
I called the Navy Bureau in Washington and talked with a great gal, a Medical Corps E9 Master Chief who was attending the Navy Surgeon General's office (and who herself was on the verge of retirement) and explained my military experience and my desire to be recalled to active duty.  I noted that I had several duty stations in war zones, especially during the Tet Offensive in Viet Nam, and felt that my involvement would be important in the early stage of Marine deployment.  She listened attentitively and with empathy. 
She got my records and said she would call back after she presented my request to an already scheduled meeting of the Bureau staff that day.  She did, later that evening.
She was laughing so I assumed it was good news.  It wasn't.  She noted that my offer was very well received and that the group discussed it in depth but finally decided that, at my rank and with the number of years that I had already served, it would be less expensive for the Navy  to send a squadron of destroyers to Kuwait than to deploy me.
My offer to go at my own expense was refused as "not legal," and that was the end of that opportunity.  Two years later, they booted me out (because of age) and I retired after 36 years of service.
I'm still carrying that disappointment. 
As it turned out, if you recall, there were very few, if any, neurosurgical casualties or other significant wounded in that operation so it would have turned out to be considered a boondogle rather than a useful deployment.
A few years later my youngest son joined the marines for a successful four-year tour and you can't imagine my pride (and my worry).
 A beautiful story told with Spielberg drama and sensitivity.

You have to wonder why these stories never hit the news……