He Could Heal No Wounds, But . . .

By Ty Dodge

Having been hit by two RPGs when FSB Buttons was overrun by a large North Vietnamese force, I lay in a hospital with the better part of my right thigh and three inches of my femur gone. Tubes protruded from here and there, and shrapnel covered my body. And, while I wasn’t looking forward to eight months in traction, a more immediate irritation was the full body cast — my “shipping container”— that encased me from chest to toe.

After a couple of weeks of lying on my back like a stranded turtle, my attitude simply checked out on me. The hospital staff was overwhelmed and I wasn’t getting the attention I wanted. It wasn’t fair, and I didn’t like it.

So it was that I became somewhat of a pain in the neck to the doctors and nurses and corpsmen around me. Sure, I could hear other guys suffering. But that was their problem. In fact, I wished they’d be more quiet so I could get some sleep.

Then he found his way into my life. I could see him shuffling slowly along near the entrance to our ward about twenty beds away. Occasionally he’d run into something and reorient himself. Bandages covered his face and his eyes, and he was navigating by Braille — feeling his way along with his hands. Every now and then he’d stop by a bed and say something, then move on.

Finally he arrived at my bed. Ran into it, actually. I watched him with self pity in my heart. After all, I had problems of my own. At least this guy could get out of bed!

His hand brushed my cast and he tapped on it. Then, in a course, low voice he said to me, “Man, what happened to you? They got you wrapped in concrete! You gonna be OK? You be able to get home any time soon?”

Another voice chimed in from the bed next to mine. “Don’t need to answer him.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“Can’t hear. Lost his hearing and most of his face to a mortar round.”

The man whose face was wrapped in gauze thumped my cast one more time. “I’m prayin’ for ya, dude. Hang tough,” he said.

Then he shuffled away.

My eyes followed him till tears clouded my vision.

At that moment in my life it wasn’t so much by body that needed the cure, as my attitude — and on that morning, a faceless young trooper healed it.