(Columbia) March 28, 2007 - For soldiers wounded in Iraq, it can seem like a long journey home.
South Carolina's bravest, and all of the other soldiers who are injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, are cared for at the Landstuhl Army Hospital in Germany.
WIS' Craig Melvin, photojournalist Nick Modisett and producer Stefanie Caraviello were the only South Carolina television crew traveling with the 315th on their mission.
They sent back reports you can read or watch here on WIStv.com. Below are the e-mails Stefanie Caraviello sent updating us on their journey.
Letters from Home
(Germany) March 27, 2007 - The trip from Charleston AFB to Ramstein, Germany on a C-17 was an unforgettable experience. I am sure during this mission with Craig and Nick we will have a lot of these. But already, I have had an experience that goes beyond the grandeur of the mission; it's one what tugs on the heart strings and puts goose bumps on your arms.
The C-17 is the 2nd largest cargo plane in the U.S. Air Force. It flies at 30,000 feet above ground at speeds up to 400 miles per hour. Its magnificent size and strength is used to carry cargo to Iraq and wounded soldiers out of Iraq.
During my 8 hour flight on this humongous plane, a small cargo pallet loaded on the back is what gave me my first memorable moment. Wrapped inside were letters from home for the troops in Iraq. It seems like such a small thing to carry for such a big plane. But what these letters lack in size I can only imagine they make up for it in semblance. They are letters from home. Inside them are perhaps words of love, sadness or encouragement. As one of the flight members told me, these small letters are some of the most precious cargo this large C-17 can deliver to Iraq.
That is my first memorable moment. I will send you another tomorrow from Ramstein, Germany. Until then, may you too experience a memorable moment that will stay in your heart.
WIS News 10
Quilts of Valor
(Germany) March 28, 2007 - Today I met a Marine from Texas who told me when I leave Germany I won't be the same person I was when I first got here. Those are words of truth.
When Craig, Nick and I first met with Captain Wayne Capps at the Charleston Air Force Base the captain had a plastic container he carried with him on the C-17. Inside were what are called "Quilts of Valor." They are quilts made by South Carolinians for the wounded troops. Captain Capps' mission was to deliver these quilts to the chaplain at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. Landstuhl is the largest American military hospital outside of the United States. It is the first stop for wounded troops who have just left the war zone and flown on a C-17 to Germany for medical care.
When these wounded men and women are on the plane all many have with them is the clothes on their backs. It may sound too graphic, but this means the blood-covered clothes many of the war wounded come to Germany wearing are their sole possession. On this trip I have seen these clothes on the wounded soldiers, and that is where the quilts of valor come into play.
After Captain Capps gave the quilts to the hospital's chaplain, the chaplain then gave the quilts to the men and women healing in the hospital. WIS went along as a two were passed out, and in both cases the men receiving the quilts cried in thanks. The chaplain cried with compassion.
It's that compassion that I felt when I first saw a wounded warrior. I have now seen many. It's that compassion that I continue to feel each time I talk to one in the hospital. I have now heard many stories.
And it's that compassion that I will take with me when I leave a different person. I can only hope when we get back, News 10 will be able to pass it onto you.
WIS News 10
South Carolina's Bravest
Since arriving in Ramstein, Germany we have talked to several South Carolinians helping the men and women wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the people helping heal the heroes is Lt. Col. Fredrick DuBois. He is a Midlands native who graduated from Claflin University in Orangeburg. He's been in the U.S. Army 18 years. Right now, he's serving as the Chief of Social Work at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. Craig talked to Lt. Col. DuBois about the difficulties wounded warriors have reconnecting to their families back home. Lt. Col. DuBois says it's really hard for the wounded to go back to a life where the people in it can't relate to what they've just been through and the images they've just witnessed.
Craig also talked to a Charleston Airman from the 315th that has done five tours in Germany. SSgt. Juan Moreno is one of the medical technicians on the C-17. He willingly volunteered for the fifth mission he is on right now. When Craig talked to him, SSgt. Moreno was getting ready to board the plane and fly to Iraq to pick up the war wounded. When flying on these missions, the Charleston airman told Craig he too has also seen images that will never be erased.
News 10 will bring you the stories of some of South Carolina's bravest when we get back home.