Friday, December 08, 2006

Marines' Repeated, Clandestine Visits to Young Iraqi Girl...

(This one's dedicated to cj)

Don't get your hopes up libs...the spirit of this story is the embodiment of America's Armed Forces. The Honor, the Valor and the Sacrifice. It's really long, but please read it: "Saving Baby Mariam"

Chris Walsh, a Navy medic assigned to a US Marines weapons company that was on a hunt for someone that detonated an IED, came across a baby Iraqi girl who was born with her intestines and bladder outside her body...

"... As soon as Captain Sean Donovan , a doctor assigned to the First Battalion 25th Marine Regiment out of Fort Devens in Ayer, saw them, he knew the baby had a rare condition in which the bladder develops outside the body. Donovan said she wouldn't live long without surgery of a kind she couldn't get in Iraq.

"Then," Donovan recalls Walsh saying, "we've got to get her out of here, sir."

It seemed a noble sentiment, if, in the middle of a war, a bit naive. But Walsh meant it. Saving Baby Mariam became his mission. At chow one night, he stood up and explained to the Marines in his platoon what he wanted to do. He said he'd need help. And one by one, the Marines put up their hands.

Meanwhile, each week, under the cover of darkness, wearing night-vision goggles, Chris Walsh and a dozen Marines made their way to the shanty where Mariam lived. They parked their Humvees a mile away and walked a different, circuitous route each time. Staff Sergeant Edward Ewing, the platoon leader who devised and led the covert nocturnal visits, said Walsh's team followed a routine: Lance Corporal Eric Valdepenas , a 21-year-old from Seekonk, and Cody Hill, a 23-year-old lance corporal from Oklahoma, hid outside Mariam's house, providing cover, along with some others; Corporal Jared Shoemaker , 29, a police officer back in Tulsa, accompanied Donovan and Walsh inside the house, where they tended to Mariam as best they could, trying to ward off an infection that could kill her."

Chris Walsh was killed by an IED that exploded under his humvee right before his rotation was about to end. His guys went into overdrive trying to get Mariam to the US so his death wouldn't be in vain...

"Three weeks ago, Maureen Walsh (Chris's mom) stood on the 17th floor of the pediatric ward at Mass. General, rocking Mariam in her arms. The vacant stare that Chris Walsh first encountered has been replaced by a pair of bright, inquisitive brown eyes.

Mariam stared up at Maureen Walsh and smiled back.

Having arrived in Boston listless, malnourished, and underdeveloped, Mariam has put on two pounds and now weighs 12 pounds.

"This is a different girl than the one who arrived here in October," said Dr. Laurence Ronan, who has overseen Mariam's care and will take her and her grandparents back to Iraq soon.

Mariam's grandparents, who traveled with her because her mother has not recovered from complications at childbirth, told Maureen Walsh they had learned of Chris' death last month, when Captain Donovan visited them at the hospital.

Mariam's grandfather took Maureen Walsh's hand in his and, speaking in Arabic, said, "Thank you for your son."

Mariam's family does not believe it was coincidence that Chris Walsh was the one who came into their house in hot pursuit of someone who had tried to kill him and instead put down his gun and picked up Mariam.

"This," her grandfather said, nodding solemnly, "was an act of God. God sent Chris. To Mariam. So she will live."

Maureen Walsh shares that assessment.

"There were too many coincidences for it to be coincidence," she said. "Chris was waiting his whole life for something like this."

Maureen Walsh shook her head and stroked Mariam's hair.

"Look at her," she said. "Isn't she beautiful?" (Read the whole incredible story)

(H/T: Thank you to Sean at Doc in the Box for posting this story that should be all over the MSM)

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