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April 26, 2012
Elijah CarrollBy Greyhawk
My good friend Robert Stokely sent an email update to this story from a few years ago:
Congratulations, Lt Carroll. And thank you, Robert, for all you've done and been through over the years, too. I'm more than proud to call you friend. Robert's 2008 story on Elijah Carroll follows - it can't be improved by any further introduction from me. (I will add: read the comments, too.)
From Robert Stokely:
Tonight, as we approach midnight EST the Moon over Yusufiyah (as I call it) is full and shining brightly. I am reminded of a midnight a little over three years ago on October 20, 2005. Members of E 108th CAV 48th Brigade Georgia National Guard were patrolling their sector in the "Fiyahs" that formed the northern part of the Triangle of Death - Yusufiyah and Mahmudiyah. One particular patrol near Mahmudiyah suddenly had its night shattered by a violent IED explosion. Chaos reigned for what seemed an eterinity as several sodliers in the Humvee were seriously injured, one hanging upside down his leg torn to shreds along with other injuries as he was pinned in. Fellow soldiers rushed to their aid as Medevacs were called in. It didn't look the good for Elijah Carroll as his fellow soldiers struggled to free him, as other fellow injured soldiers lay on the ground, unit medics working on them.
Soon the thump thump thump sounded nearby as the Medevacs got closer. A landing zone was set up even as Elijah Carroll remained pinned in. Then the unthinkable happened as the Medevac came in - the tail rotor clipped a nearby Humvee worse yet it clipped the fifty caliber machine gun setting off a spray of rounds including toward the men working on Elijah Carroll. Imagine seriously hurt but alive and then watching your Medevac crank into the ground as 50 CAL bullets spray all around you. Chaos just got more chaotic.
Elijah Carrol is still alive having survived two near death battlefield experiences in just a few minutes. Finally loaded on another Medevac, he is on the way for emergency surgery to save his life as his leg is mangled and other injuries add to his pain. Surgeons await him and soon realize saving his life might happen but most likely not his leg, yet they try. Imagine the pain and fear of Elijah's parents getting the "call" and as they rush to be with him, wondering if he will be alive when they get there. Certainly, they wretch with pain just thinking about their dear son, wondering how how bad was he hurting. It must have been bittersweet seeing a mangled son - thankful he is alive, but sickened with hurt at the excruciating pain he is in. Surgery after surgery to get him from one point to the next as Elijah transitioned over the next few days up range finally going to Eisenhower Medical Center Fort Gordon GA. Barring an infection, embolism or some other side effect that often teases hope only to give disaster when one has serious injuries, his parents now have more hope he will make it. But the leg seems a foregone conclusion to be lost. And, if not lost, no hope to ever walk.
However, there is just one unknown constant to many failed to realize. Elijah Carroll didn't see it that way and was determined beyond determination to live, walk and one day run again. Doubtful doctors tell him even if he walked, he would not never run again and that his military career was over. Telling a soldier his career is over is bad enough, much less one who was in a college in an officer commission program. North Georgia Military College, now "properly" known as North Georgia College and State University, turns out good field leaders and officers. Elijah Carroll had a couple years under his belt prior to going to Iraq as a Corporal and CAV Scourt.
Elijah Carroll would not be denied and in the three years from that horrible night I have watched him heal, first in a cast, suffering multiple surgeries for his leg and other injuries including the face and bridge of his nose. Infections nearly did his leg in more than once. But finally the day came he walked, first with crutches, then with a cane. He did so in great pain but that did not stop him from rehab and he did his part and then some. And, in this time, he still had room on his plate for the family of his good friend who did not make it back - SGT Mike Stokely. They were good friends and even before that night Elijah nearly lost his own life, he had already suffered one of the harshest realitiies of war - carrying the body of his dear friend from the battlefield in the Fiyahs to the morgue in Baghdad. Somewhere in all this, besides his physical pain and hurt, there had to be some level of PTSD. Yet Elijah Carroll had his chin up, chest was out, and his heart remained strong, yet soft for his fallen friend's family.
Elijah Carroll proved all the doctors wrong. He kept his leg. He walked and as soon as he could and against medical advice he threw the cane away. He tried running one day and it didn't go well - in fact he fell. But he got up and he ran a little and then a little more. He has spent some time hiking and even repelling. And the latest just a few weeks ago he ran all 26 plus miles of the Atlanta Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot Marathon. Remarkable you think?
Well, it is now after midnight and in a few hours on this Saturday December 13, 2008 CPL Elijah Carroll will be pinned and become a commissioned officer as he graduates from his beloved North Georgia Military College. His military career is far from over as he is only beginning and soon he is off for extensive military training for newly commissioned officers. He does have one regret about this officer training school he will be going to - it may keep him from deploying with his unit as the Georgia National Guard 48th Brigade leaves for Afghanistan next spring / summer. But rest assured that Elijah Carroll will have his day as a leader of good soldiers, and if need be he will lead them in battle.
Such soldiers will be fortunate for they will be led by someone who is battle tested in many ways and whose heart beats in the body of a man who has walked the walk and who already wears a bronze star and purple heart. Parents always dread their children going to war, but the parents whose children are led by Elijah Carroll can rest a little easier knowing their children are under the command of a proven and wise leader who knows his way around a battlefield.
God Bless you Elijah Carroll and thank you for being Mike Stokely's good friend, bearing his body from the battlefield and for standing with his family even as you suffered tremendous physical pain and grief. You fought your way back and I can't begin to tell you how proud I am of you. If I were younger, I'd follow you myself. I know for a fact your dear friend Mike Stokely would follow you.
(Originally posted 2008-12-13 05:29:43)
Posted by Greyhawk / April 26, 2012 4:05 PM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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