Friday, February 10, 2006

Heroes of the Texas National Guard

[As posted to Lone Star Times.]

1st Lt. John 'Doc' Brown attends to rescued ferry passenger

We all saw and heard the reports of the tragic ferry disaster last week in the Red Sea, where more than a thousand people were lost at sea. What we will probably never see or hear in the Houston media is that two heroes of the Texas National Guard played an important role in the rescue of survivors from the sunken ferry.
Soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regiment, Texas National Guard, recently deployed to the Sinai Peninsula as part of a multinational mission to observe the peace between Egypt and Israel. Then the unit commander, Lt. Col. Lee D. Schnell, received a call.

After the Egyptian ferry Al Salam Boccaccio went down in the Red Sea Feb. 4, the Italian navy, which has a unit patrolling that body of water as part of the multinational mission, made an urgent request for medical personnel. In response, Colonel Schnell immediately deployed 1st Lt. John "Doc" Brown, a physician assistant, and Master Sgt. Earl Redrick, a medic, to the area.

"It took us seven or eight hours to get to the scene in a boat that was designed to patrol the coastline, not necessarily open sea," Lieutenant Brown said. "We patrolled for 12 hours, but initially all we found were empty rafts, until we found a lone survivor. He was very weak, but he managed to pull himself onto the boat. We got him out of his wet clothes, listened to his lungs and stabilized him."
Lt. Brown and Master Sgt. Redrick were able to save a total of seven people, most of whom were dehydrated and barely conscious after spending 24 hours fighting for survival in the open water.
At the conclusion of the search and rescue effort, Commander Paolo Spagnoletta of the multinational force and observers shared with Colonel Schnell a letter of gratitude written by one of the survivors rescued by multinational forces ships.
letter of gratitude

This is a fantastic story of the dedication and valor shown on a daily basis by our Texas Guardsmen and throughout the U.S. military. So often all we hear in the American and international media are stories of bloodthirsty soldiers that relish the killing and torturing of innocents. This is the real picture of the American soldier, whose purpose is simply to do whatever he can to make this world a better and safer place.

Colonel Schnell's comments sum it up quite nicely:
"Responding to a maritime disaster was certainly something we did not specifically train for, but the professionalism and training of the Army National Guard Soldier allows us to respond to almost anything, anytime and anywhere."

Thanks to LST reader Dan Densford for the tip and the photos.

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