“PROSE”: “the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.” – Merriam Webster
After years of interrogating and defending witnesses in the criminal courts, detecting patterns and pattern breaks in people’s oral and written speech and in their behaviors is instinctive.
But it’s also instinct to identify other types of patterns. So, while at the Southern Arizona Veterans Cemetery last month, I took time to consider some of the patterns that are visible among the granite niche plates of the veterans who share a columbarium with my dad:
Too many of the niche plates are hard to read from just ten feet away;
The types of diversity among the names suggests that the ethnic, historical, and linguistic heritage among the veterans who share the columbarium with dad is broad, a reminder that those who fight America’s wars come from far and near;
These niche plates and others adjacent to them reveal a near, if not total, absence of any identifier that would draw distinctions among veterans based on race;
That the decedent be personally identified with, or perhaps insured by, religion or spirituality appears to be, at the very least, important to the good folks he or she came from;
As would be expected, most of these men and women who’ve died in the last few years served this nation’s military as enlisted personnel, rather than as officers;
Among these niche plates and others adjacent to them, there is a near, if not total, absence of any markings by which one might distinguish among combat warriors and other military veterans based on whether that veteran was gay, straight, or otherwise;
Many of the service men and women on these and other columbaria would have experienced the existential threats that this Nation faced during World War II, while they were still children; others came of age and perhaps served, when the U.S. and its allies fought the Communist scourge on and around the Korean Peninsula and around and above an island just 90 miles from the continental U.S.; during more than ten years of the Vietnam War and in the decades that followed, most, if not all of these veterans time and again saw those who mattered to them most die in whole or in part, regardless of which political party held power in Washington; and like every other person on the planet, each of them woke every day with a promise from the nuclear age: mutually assured destruction if any of us screws up; and
Among those niche plates that contain additional remarks in the space below the veteran’s official lifespan, almost all forego terms like “hero” and “warrior” in favor of terms that speak to the human connection that those left behind feel and will continue to feel for the veteran they’ve lost.
“PROSE”: “the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.” – Merriam Webster
Here’s an excerpt from the forthcoming article. It draws from a 2016 trauma medicine article by a decorated 24-year U.S. Navy veteran who served as a combat doctor in Afghanistan and Iraq. In this excerpt, the trauma surgeon and his colleagues explain why a high-velocity round from a rifle such as the AK47, M4, and AR15, does vastly more damage to the human body than Hollywood’s led us to believe.
“Allied airmen who were lucky enough to make it back to Britain often had combat injuries that current day civilians in much of the world never encounter. Injuries that we cannot imagine but which all the time send our warriors back to us broken in part or in whole. Injuries that far too often send the ones we love back to us in boxes draped in our nations’ colors.
“Modern warfare is a lazy Susan, overstuffed with both new and old ways to kill. Each turn of the wheel and selection of another weapon lengthens the types and severities of the combat wounds that stow away in returning service members and then refuse to leave once those warriors get home.
“Writing in a 2005 article in Techniques in Orthopaedics, Montreal-born Dr. Richard Gosselin explains that when it comes to combat injuries, things are seldom as good as they look. “War wounds are often worse than they appear. High-energy projectiles, deep penetration of foreign material, dirty field conditions, delayed evacuation, and/or ill-advised initial treatment such as prolonged use of tourniquet or primary wound closure may all contribute to wounds with extensive tissue damage and severe contamination. Unless evacuation time is short, which for civilians is usually the exception, life-threatening injuries will have already self-triaged”[i]
“Maybe a comparison of two injuries caused by two very different firearms can make it easier to imagine something of what those we send to fight for us often have to go through. Forensic surgeon Bill Smock explained in a recent interview that “If a bullet from a handgun strikes a liver, it injures the organ by poking a hole and causing tissue disruption around the path of the bullet. More specifically, a 9-millimeter handgun creates a hole that disrupts three-quarters of an inch around the bullet’s path, . . .”
“. . .But with a rifle round, you have massive tissue disruption,’ Smock said. ‘Rather than three quarters of an inch around the wound path, it is disrupted three to four inches around that same tissue.’”[ii]
“Peter M. Rhee, a decorated 24-year U.S. Navy veteran and a combat doctor in Afghanistan and Iraq, and his colleagues explain in a 2016 article in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery why there’s so much destruction to the human body when it’s entered by a high-velocity round from a rifle such as the AK47, M4, and AR15:
“Lacerating and Crushing
“. . . high energy rounds may begin to tumble as energy is dissipated upon travel through deeper tissue. The natural tendency is that the high-energy bullets will become unstable as they decelerate. These bullets may pitch and yaw, and the back end of the bullet may become the leading edge. During this distance, the energy of the projectile is absorbed by the surrounding tissue, causing stretching and tearing of tissue.”[iii]
“Illustrated by a color photograph of a surgeon’s hand sticking through a gunshot wound in someone’s neck, the former U.S. Navy combat doctor puts it this way: “A bullet with sufficient energy will have a cavitation effect in addition to the penetrating track injury. As the bullet passes through the tissue, initially crushing then lacerating, the space left by the tissue forms a cavity, and this is called the permanent cavity. Higher-velocity bullets create a pressure wave that forces the tissues away, creating not only a permanent cavity the size of the caliber of the bullet but also a temporary cavity or secondary cavity, which is often many times larger than the bullet itself.”[iv]
“Lest we forget: the rounds that German fighters used to down Allied bombers and then their airmen descending by parachute, those rounds were designed to kill airplanes.[v]”
[i] Richard A. Gosselin, M.D., M.P.H., F.R.C.S.(C). War Injuries, Trauma, and Disaster Relief. Techniques in Orthopaedics 20(2):97, 99. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2005.
[iii] Peter M. Rhee, MD, MPH, Ernest E. Moore, MD, Bellal Joseph, MD, Andrew Tang, MD, Viraj Pandit, MD, and Gary Vercruysse, MD. Gunshot wounds: A review of ballistics, bullets, weapons, and myths. Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery 80(6): 853, 863 and Figure 13 A, B. Wolters Kluwer Health 2016.
(Photo: Wee Willie, Boeing B-17G-15-BO Flying Fortress 42-31333, is going down after hit by antiaircraft artillery over Stendal, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany, 8 April 1945. (U.S.A.F.); Accessed at thisdayinaviation.com March 12, 2018).
Charles Bloeser is a lawyer and the researcher behind the creation of combatresearchandprose.com, a new open-source applied research initiative examining combat and those marked by it. His most recent publication, in August 2018, reports how a cancer-stricken, combat-haunted, Vietnam veteran fell between the cracks in a modern jail. It’s an account that, from that warrior’s deathbed, he asked author to share with those best able to keep the same thing from happening to others. STRIFE, at the Department of War Studies, Kings College London, gave him a way to do that.
“PROSE”: “the ordinary language people use in speaking or writing.” -Merriam Webster
“The battle of Verdun was the longest, if not the bloodiest, single battle in World War I. Launched by the German Fifth Army on 21 February 1916, it did not come to an end until the final French counterattack was ended on 19 December 1916. For most of 1916, German and French soldiers fought tooth and nail for a few square miles of terrain around the French fortress city of Verdun, in what was the quintessential “battle of attrition” of World War I. Most units of the French army and many of the German army fought in what was described by both sides as the “hell of Verdun.” Between the battle’s start and the end of August (when the Germans ceased offensive operations), some 281,000 Germans and some 315,000 Frenchmen were killed or wounded. . . .”
– Dr. Robert Foley, Dean of Academic Studies/Head of Department at the Defence Studies Department, Joint Services Command and Staff College (JSCSC), the Defence Academy of the UK.
“Germany agreed to join the French lead European Intervention Initiative (IEI). The project brings together a dozen European countries, capable militarily and politically willing to face evolving security challenges, and better able to protect its citizens. France, UK, Netherlands, and Germany were among the first to endorse the project. The Letter Of Intent signed yesterday is a significant step forward in the defense cooperation between the two countries and in Europe. This close cooperation was the key motivation for the foundation of KNDS in 2015, where Nexter and KMW cooperate as national system houses for land systems.”
Tamir Eshel. Germany Joins France to Establish a Joint European Intervention Force. Defense-Update.com (June 20, 2018)
Charles Bloeser is the creator of combatresearchandprose.com, an open-source applied research initiative that will continue to do its part to contribute to bridging the gap in experience, knowledge, and understanding that divides those who’ve never served under arms from those who have. He’s the civilian son and grandson of veterans and a lawyer who’s spent most years arguing criminal and constitutional issues in America’s state and federal trial and appellate courts. Among his published research are works re Libyan-supported Jihadi terrorism in the Western Hemisphere, civilian-military law enforcement relations in the U.S., and the demands that an increasingly complex national security environment make for SOF forces. His research agenda includes national security/defense/veterans issues, with special attention to those facing challenges from combat stress/PTSD/TBI etc.