Treating a patient in the war zone

Nashville, TN

Eight years ago I met Richard, when he was but a teenager. Our friend’s amazing son always wanted a military career and nothing was going to stop him from fulfilling that lifelong dream. ROTC, followed by Ranger training, led this young lieutenant to a second tour in the war zone.
You could not pay me enough money to do what he does every day. It takes a special individual to jump out of an airplane, take part in dangerous nighttime patrols or work with indigenous villagers; any one of them could be an ISIS terrorist. Sure, I served in the USAF during Vietnam. Sure, I patriotically volunteered. But as an Air Force dentist, the closest I ever came to combat was a tough root canal. In 1966 I treated the real heroes, our fighter pilots, the flight crews and their unsung support teams.
We were having dinner at our friend’s house when they told me that their son Rich was having a dental problem. I’m a 76-year-old retired dentist and Rich is somewhere in the Middle East. How could I help? The age of modern technology has finally dragged me into the 21st century. Sure enough, the phone rang and there was Rich, FaceTiming from some distant desert outpost, mouth open, flashlight illuminating his teeth as best he could to show me the culprit. Thankfully, it was only a painfully swollen but easily treatable canker sore. Several months later, our daily prayers were answered when Rich returned to Fort Campbell, all safe and sound.
This reminds me of the incredible danger and personal sacrifice that our troops make every day. These American heroes don’t do it for the money. They don’t do it for the benefits. They don’t do it for the accolades either. They put their life on the line in order to keep us safe and preserve the greatest democracy this planet has ever seen.
God bless Richard Jr.,
God bless our troops,
God bless America!

Dr Stephen Morris DDS (ret)
Captain USAF. 1966-1968
Nashville, Tenn.

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