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Soldiers Deliver Medical Supplies to Iraqi Doctor

By Spc. Joe Alger, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

BALAD, Iraq, Dec. 6, 2004 – Medical supply drops have become an important mission in establishing trust between American soldiers and Iraqi citizens. Units all over Iraq have been donating medical supplies from their medical centers to Iraqi hospitals.

The medical supply drop conducted by Task Force Tacoma soldiers here Dec. 4 was a little different, though.

"We delivered the medical supplies to a local doctor who's not affiliated with the government," said Capt. John Ramirez, Task Force Tacoma, 81st Brigade physician assistant. "He cares for a lot of the local people in the community right out of his house."

Ramirez said donating to this doctor was particularly important because he takes care of many Iraqis who can't afford to go to a local government hospital either because of distance or lack of money.

"He's taking care of a very poor population of farmers, and he's doing at a cost to himself," Ramirez said. "Of all the people we give supplies to, he was probably one of the most deserving."

Another different aspect of this medical supply donation was the fact that family members of the task force donated all the supplies.

"Our (intelligence officer), Capt. Bryan Pelley, has a mother who's a doctor, and she sent a lot of supplies," Ramirez said. "We had a lot of other soldiers get supplies from family members as well."

Getting the supplies to the Iraqi citizens was a two-part effort between the soldiers and their family members.

"A lot of the soldiers write back home about the things they see on patrols, and the people back in the states, out of compassion, take the time, effort and energy to do something for the people out here," Ramirez said. "We have boxes and boxes arriving every day from the states, so whenever we get a chance, we take them out and donate whatever we can."

Ramirez said delivering supplies to the Iraqi people is important not only because the supplies are helpful to them, but also because it shows the Iraqi people there are people in the United States who care about them.

"The U.S. soldiers may dress a little differently (from) the Iraqi people, but we have family members just like they do who care about them," Ramirez said. "I want to say thanks to all the family members in the states who make this possible. Missions like this make everyone feel good."

(Army Spc. Joe Alger is assigned to the 1st Infantry Division Public Affairs Office.)

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