Every day there are stories in the news about the deaths in Iraq, about the suicide bombings, the attacks and more. It’s enough to make your heart heavy even if you have no one serving overseas. I’ve known several who have gone and returned and only one who went and did not come back. But today I want to share a story with you that I read in the newspaper this morning and it’s a story that made me smile for a bittersweet victory and a message of hope in the middle of a situation that cannot be described as good.
Marine Patrol Saves Iraqi Baby
A little over six months ago while on a routine patrol, the 1st Battalion of the 25th Marines along with their Navy medic Chris Walsh were patrolling the streets of Fallujah when they came under attack. The unit pursued their assailants when an Iraqi woman stepped out of her house and called for help. Her infant was ill and the marines were faced with a choice – continue pursuit or give aid to the woman asking for their help.
They chose to halt pursuit and their medic, went in with the woman to check on the baby. A little girl named Mariam and only 2 months of age was very ill. It didn’t take Walsh long to recognize that the baby desperately needed access to medicine and health care. It seems that the baby was suffering from a rare intestinal abnormality.
As a unit, they made the decision to return nightly over the next two months, varying their arrival times and more in order to check on the baby, take pictures, gather information and sending all of that back to the doctors in the states in order to get the medical assistance the baby needed. It was dangerous for the unit to repeatedly visit the home and aware of the danger, they did what they could to keep the times of their arrival varied.
They worked diligently to try and get the family papers so they could send the baby and her parents to the states for the lifesaving medical procedure she would need. Tragedy struck the unit on September 4th when one of the humvees the unit used was struck by an IED. Three men in the unit were killed, including the medic Chris Walsh who was working so diligently to save baby Mariam.
His unit continued his work, in his name and to honor their fellow fallen comrades Lance Cpl. Eric Valdepenas and Cpl Jared Shoemaker. In October, the marines won their battle and Mariam was granted permission to leave Iraq. She was taken to Boston General Hospital and she received the lifesaving surgery she so desperately needed.
Captain Sean Donovan sent a letter to Walsh’s mother to detail the story of the baby Mariam and the life Chris Walsh gave his own to save. Maureen Walsh recently met the baby Mariam and see the young life that her son saved.
We’re told there are angels in the world and for the most part, I believe in those angels and I believe we can make a difference in the lives of those around us – for the Marine unit and Medic Chris Walsh – the life they changed was that of Baby Mariam. So tonight and every night, remember the presence of these angels in our lives and honor them for the honor they do us and here is to Baby Mariam and the hope that she will have a long and wonderful life in the memory of the men who gave theirs so she could receive the medical care she needed.