Five months into his deployment in Iraq, Capt. Sudip Bose (WCAS95, FSM99), an emergency medicine doctor in the Army’s First Cavalry Division, posted a note on his web log. By that point he had been in combat, attacked by unruly mobs in Baghdad, shared living quarters with aggressive foot-long rats, endured temperatures of more than 120 degrees, saved lives and watched men die.
The blog posting was headlined “Let’s Talk Positive!” It listed things that made him optimistic. “Iraq is ‘free,’” he wrote. “More children are getting immunized. People firing mortars have terrible aim! School textbooks don’t mention Saddam Hussein for the first time in 30 years. I know that this hell is only temporary. I get to appreciate why I really went into medicine.”
Bose was a front-line doctor, regularly accompanying soldiers out on patrols. He was often kept several hundred yards behind the action and was set up to treat combat injuries on the spot. During his 15 months in Iraq he was in the battles for al Fallujah and An Najaf. He treated coalition soldiers, civilians, insurgents and Iraqi prisoners of war. He even treated Saddam Hussein. By the time his 15-month deployment ended, he had won numerous citations, been promoted to major and earned the Bronze Star Medal.
“There was a shortage of emergency physicians out there,” Bose says. “This kept me busy. Most doctors are usually located at fixed-structure hospitals, but what made my experience unique, and very dangerous, was that I was front line to the hospital most of the time. I was the sole doctor for an infantry unit that performed many raids and missions. I pretty much detached and tried to stay focused on my job of treating patients.”
As he and his unit prepared to leave Iraq last February, Bose sent a final e-mail home. It read in part: “After a grueling front-line tour through the peaks of the insurgency in Baghdad, Najaf and Fallujah, we have seen everything ever shown on a war movie. We have seen the hardest of men break down and cry. We have believed in the cause and at times questioned it. We have been told the truth. And we have been lied to. We have watched and read about ‘experts’ and ‘officials’ sitting in their air-conditioned offices ordering us to battle, boasting ‘they know how hard it is.’ They will never know.
“Too many brave soldiers lost their lives here. They are the true heroes. Their memories will live on, and they will not be forgotten. I am honored to have served with them and all of the heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom.” — T.S.