Late Breaking News
Ceremony Commemorates Fallen Military Medical Personnel
- Categorized in: April 2009 Issue
ARLINGTON, VA—The ofﬁ ce of the Assistant Secretary of Defense held a remembrance ceremony on March 11 to honor military medical personnel who died in combat since September 11, 2001.
According to the Department of Defense, 221 military medical personnel—including medics, corpsmen, doctors and nurses—have died while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.
The ceremony was held at Arlington National Cemetery on the mild March day, and was attended by more than 100 family members and friends of those slain. It was the ﬁrst time that DoD held a remembrance ceremony and wreath laying for military medical personnel killed in the current conﬂ ict. Ofﬁcials hope to make it an annual event.
Assistant Secretary of Defense S. Ward Casscells, M.D., praised the work of medics and corpsmen who have saved the lives of countless injured military personnel.
“Their skill and their bravery is the single most important reason why the case fatality rate in Iraq and Afghanistan today is 10 percent versus 23 percent in Vietnam; this is despite powerful munitions, munitions that are exploded right under your vehicle typically,” Dr. Casscells, who hosted the ceremony, told those in attendance.
Dr. Casscells noted that the job of the medic and corpsman is one of the highest risk military occupational specialties and that they receive extensive training. Their job often entails putting themselves in harm’s way in order to reach the injured on the battleﬁeld.
“They had training that didn’t exist in Vietnam or World War II,” Dr. Casscells said.
In addition to their work on the battleﬁeld and on humanitarian missions, Dr. Casscells said that they play a critical role in Iraq and Afghanistan in teaching the civilians how to become medics and corpsmen.
As a tribute to the slain medical personnel Dr. Casscells co-authored a book called When It Mattered Most that tells the stories of 208 of the medical personnel who died while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The book was expected to be published at the end of March.
He told the families at the ceremony that he is hoping for federal support for a monument in the nation’s capital for the medics and corpsmen who have lost their lives. “I hope as I speak to our congressional leaders that the monument will be for our medics and corpsmen. I think no one deserves it more,” he said.