The German Front in the Iraq War


“Two buses arrive shortly after seven. They turn into the main driveway, turn around and slowly back up toward the doors. The hospital’s advance guard - 16 people altogether - emerges from the lobby through sliding glass doors and quickly forms a cluster around the rear doors of one of the Blue Birds. A nurse stands on tiptoe on the outside perimeter, doing her best to hold an umbrella over the bus’s double doors, which are now wide open. A stretcher is lifted from inside the bus out into the rain. It arrives in the form of a broken man, a body almost completely covered in gauze bandages, darkened in spots, and connected to various machines - he is unconscious. The chaplain at the head of the welcoming committee personally greets the new arrival, just as every new arrival at Landstuhl is greeted personally, whether he is awake, asleep or in a coma. The priest stands next to the stretcher and leans in toward the patient, almost as if he were bowing, and, addressing him by his first name: Michael, he says, ‘you are safe now. You’re in Germany.’” - story