Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Chai Tea, Mud Huts, Villages With No Names and Heroes

Navy Corpsman�s Good Works Live On - DefendAmerica News Article

Fralish was patrolling with A Company of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment – to which he was attached – when he got word from an elderly Afghan man that a little girl was badly injured a few miles away.

And with that, Fralish, Schneider, two Afghan National Army soldiers and an interpreter left with the elderly man to find the girl.

“When John heard that there was a child who needed help, he was going to do everything he could to see to it that she got that help,” said Schneider, a native of Dimondale, Mich. “John wanted to help everyone who was hurt. It’s just the way he was. Keep in mind we were in hostile territory, and it was the middle of the night, but John wanted to go.”

“The old man led us to this little mud hut in the middle of nowhere up in the mountains,” Schneider continued. “There was a small fire going on in the hut, for light and warmth. John went to where the little girl was. She had fallen in the mountains a while back and was missing a chunk of her calf muscle. Her leg was hurt real bad. The cut was six inches long and five inches wide down to the bone. Fabric from an old dress was being used as a bandage, and it was soaked through not with blood, but with puss. Infection had set in, and she probably had no more than a couple of days to live if she would have remained in that state.”

Fralish made sure she didn’t remain in that state for long. He cleaned the wound, applied antibiotics and redressed it.

“Still, that was only going to buy her a couple of more days of life at best. She needed immediate surgery in a hospital,” Schneider said. “We were on a combat mission that we had to get back to, but John wasn’t just going to sit by and let this girl die.”[snip]

Fralish took off his rank insignia and gave it to the elderly man, along with a note he wrote explaining who he was and what the situation was, so that the girl and her family could be given safe passage to the medical facility at Mehtar Lam.[snip]

Still, the girl’s wound and infection were too serious to be adequately treated at Mehtar Lam, Schneider said. Nothing short of amputation of her lower leg – which could not be performed locally – would save her life.

“When we heard that, everyone passed the hat around, and we got enough money together so the family could hire a car to take them to the hospital at Bagram Airfield,” Schneider said. “It was airmen, soldiers, Marines and sailors -- everyone chipping in together.

“Well, the girl’s family showed the note John had written, along with his rank insignia, at every check point, and it got their car through to Bagram where the little girl underwent successful surgery,” Schneider said. “She made it, and she’s recovering nicely and is alive and well now directly because of John. She has a second chance at life.”

Around the time of the girl’s surgery, Fralish was killed in action.

“That whole village mourned John’s death along with us,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Cameron Stewart of Spokane, Wash., a corpsman with the 1/3 Marines. “All those who served with John are deeply affected by his loss. To see Afghan villagers also affected is a true testament to the character and type of person John was.”[snip]

And also, perhaps, demonstrates how one man’s character can change the mindset of a community. Since Fralish’s death, villagers in the surrounding area have also made it a point to alert authorities to insurgent activity.

“What used to be an area where the insurgents could blend in and operate in has now turned against them,” Schneider said.

"This war will be won over glasses of chai tea in mud huts in villages with names we cannot pronounce."

You always reached out to me and helped me believe
All those memories we share
I will cherish every one of them
The truth of it is there's a right way to live
And you showed me
So now you live on in the words of a song
You're a melody

You stand here with me now. - Creed Stand Here With Me Now

Cross posted The Castle

Update: Welcome Blackfive guests. Please be sure to check out other posts about "Chai Tea, Mud Huts, Villages With No Names" and "Heroes in Action" for more stories about the good works and heroic deeds of our men and women in uniform.


BostonMaggie said...

Thank you.

Barb said...

Great story, Kat - thanks.

Cassandra said...

Kat, this is wonderful. Thank you for posting it.

Tennessee Budd said...

God bless Petty Officer (I presume) Fralish.
I'm planning to join the Army (infantry) this fall. This is an example for me to bear in mind.

Beth* A. said...

Awesome story. Hurts like he!! that we all lost a man like that - but what a legacy to leave from one compassionate gesture! Wow. Makes me cry and feel proud all at the same time...

Anonymous said...

Another fine - VERY fine - example to rebuke John Kerry's "our troops are terrorizing women and children in the dead of night" story. Hearing about the extraordinary efforts of our troops to assist the general population makes me proud to be an American! And mad as hell at the MSM for not reporting such deeds.


deckerd1 said...

Hey, "Schneider," I don't know who you are or where you heard this story, but thanks for giving yourself a prominent role in a story in which you weren't even involved. John was one of the best friends I've ever had. He and I shared a hooch for months at the FOB in Mehtar Lam before he died. That night he walked down the mountain to treat the little girl, there was only one other military service member with him, and it wasn't you. It makes me sick that you would try to place yourself in this situation! We didn't even have an soldiers with us that night!