COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation honors the sacrifice of firefighter Stephen Siller who laid down his life to save others on September 11, 2001.
Our military and first responders right here in the Midlands and across South Carolina continue to make the supreme sacrifice of life and limb for our country, including one surgeon at Lexington Medical Center.
Dr. Heather Currier, who specializes in cardiovascular disease, general surgery, thoracic surgery, and vascular surgery, spent over two decades making that sacrifice, risking her own life to save the lives of her brothers and sisters in service. Dr. Currier spent 24 years in active duty service to our country before retiring as a colonel for the U.S. Army and beginning a new chapter at Lexington Medical Center.
She’s a cardiothoracic surgeon, operating on the heart, lungs, and organs in the chest. Her titles in the Army have included trauma surgeon, deputy commander of surgical services, and chief of surgery. During her decades of service, she deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, operating on our nation’s bravest men and women to save their lives.
“This time of year, around September 11th, I think it gets harder because you think about people that you’ve lost or friends that you’ve lost,” Currier said.
Dr. Currier received a Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Clusters for her combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. During these deployments, she said she stopped keeping count on the number of patients she operated on.
“It started to get overwhelming,” Dr. Currier said. “It was like looking at the Vietnam wall in Washington D.C., just all of these names of people who have been injured.”
She said the survival rate was high, but the size and scale of the wounds were overwhelming at times. She said every day during her deployment to Afghanistan she would see a patient who had lost three limbs.
“If I never have to take care of a 19-year-old or 20-year-old with those types of injuries,” Dr. Currier said. “I don’t miss that.”
She said the patient turnover was rapid and, many times, she never heard whether her patients recovered.
“It was hard because you wanted to know how people were doing,” Dr. Currier said.
Being deployed also meant sacrificing some things back home in the U.S. Dr. Currier said she missed her son crawling and walking for the first time.
“I wouldn’t, even though it was hard on my family,” Dr. Currier said, “I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.”
She retired in March 2019, but her time in service continues to impact her outlook back home.
“I have a stake in the game. At one point, you know, I was willing to die for what I believe in,” Dr. Currier said.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers 5K event this weekend commemorates the sacrifice, honor, and comradery that Dr. Currier and every member of our military and first responder divisions represent.
The proceeds will go towards the building of smart homes for quadruple and triple amputee veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In past years, the Tunnel to Towers 5K had over 800 Fort Jackson soldiers, South Carolina first responders, law enforcement officers, and military service members from all branches of the armed services participating in the event.