Scottish Native a Pillar of Dependability in Unit
By Pfc. Mike Pryor, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
NAWA, Afghanistan, Aug. 26, 2005 It wasn't even noon yet and already Army Sgt. Christopher Turner had been hit in the face by concrete fragments, forced to deputize a chaplain to man his under-strength aid station, and resuscitated an officer who had stopped breathing.
Army Sgt. Christopher Turner, of Glenrothes, Scotland, a medic with the 82nd Airborne Division's 307th Engineer Battalion currently attached to Task Force Red Falcon in Eastern Afghanistan, checks a patient's IV bag while overseeing the battalion aid station during Operation Neptune, Aug. 10. Photo by Pfc. Mike Pryor, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
It was the kind of situation where Turner is at his best.
"I'm just managing the chaos," he said cheerfully as he prepped another bag of intravenous for use.
Turner, 29, originally from Glenrothes, Scotland, is a medic attached to the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment. He has been a pillar of dependability for the battalion since it began combat operations in eastern Afghanistan in mid-July.
"He's been a great asset to the team," said Lt. Dan Coulter, the battalion medical officer. "He brings a wealth of knowledge from previous deployments to help teach and mentor the younger medics in the battalion. He has a strong work ethic, second to none, and he's always willing to lend a hand. The 'Red Falcon' medics are proud to have him as an addition to the team."
Turner prefers to view himself as a magnet for trouble.
"I hate my name. I hear it all the time and it's never for anything good. It's never, 'Hey Sgt. Turner you just won $1,000!' It's always, 'Hey Sgt. Turner, I'm hurt!' or, 'Hey Sgt. Turner, I need a medic!" he said.
Turner's abilities were put to good use during Operation Neptune, a massive cordon-and-search operation in the deserts of eastern Afghanistan the battalion conducted Aug. 8 - 12.
The first patient Turner had to treat during the operation was himself, after an accidental weapon discharge hit a wall nearby and sprayed chips of concrete in his face.
"I got peppered a bit," he said casually.
As the mission continued, the merciless desert heat, unsanitary conditions, and unrelenting tempo of operations caused heat casualties to start piling up. Some cases required nothing more than an IV drip. Others were more serious.
Turner was nearby when an officer who had been receiving fluids went into a seizure the night of Aug. 9. Turner leaped into action.
"His eyes rolled back in his head, and his whole body went rigid," Turner said.
The officer had stopped breathing, and his brain was no longer receiving oxygen. Knowing the situation was critical, Turner knelt down and began administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
"I gave two rescue breaths, and he shot up and said, 'I'm good! I'm good!" Turner said.
The officer was evacuated by air later that night and is expected to make a full recovery. Turner, typically, downplays the incident. "Yeah, the last person I made out with was a male lieutenant," he said.
After providing medical care throughout the rest of the operation, Turner was riding back to his forward operating base in a convoy when it was ambushed by a group of militants. The well-positioned attackers hit the convoy with improvised explosive devices, rocket-propelled grenades, and small-arms fire, but miraculously no one was hurt. Then, not so miraculously, the truck Turner was in rolled into a ditch. Despite seeming to bounce from one catastrophe to another, Turner remains upbeat. By his personal yardstick, he said, this deployment has been an unqualified success.\
"I've yet to lose a soldier in my care, and that's the way I like it," he said.
(Army Pfc. Mike Pryor is assigned to 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment.)