America in Uniform

America in Uniform

Soon To Be Gone

From a subscriber:
“This should be required reading in every school and college in our country. This Captain, an Army doctor, deserves a medal himself for putting this together. If you choose not to pass it on, fine, but I think you will want to, after you read it.” Cpt. Otis













Soon To Be Gone
by Capt. Steven Ellison, MD
A Military Doctor

I am a doctor specializing in the Emergency Departments of the only two military Level One-Trauma Centers, both in San Antonio, TX and they care for civilian Emergencies as well as military personnel. San Antonio has the largest military retiree population in the world living here. As a military doctor, I work long hours and the pay is less than glamorous. One tends to become jaded by the long hours, lack of sleep, food, family contact and the endless parade of human suffering passing before you. The arrival of another ambulance does not mean more pay, only more work. Most often, it is a victim from a motor vehicle crash.


Often it is a person of dubious character who has been shot or stabbed. With our large military retiree population, it is often a nursing home patient. Even with my enlisted service and minimal combat experience in Panama, I have caught myself groaning when the ambulance brought in yet another sick, elderly person from one of the local retirement centers that cater to military retirees. I had not stopped to think of what citizens of this age group represented.

I saw ‘Saving Private Ryan.’ I was touched deeply. Not so much by the carnage, but by the sacrifices of so many. I was touched most by the scene of the elderly survivor at the graveside, asking his wife if he’d been a good man. I realized that I had seen these same men and women coming through my Emergency Dept. and had not realized what magnificent sacrifices they had made. The things they did for me and everyone else that has lived on this planet since the end of that conflict are priceless.


Situation permitting, I now try to ask my patients about their experiences. They would never bring up the subject without the inquiry. I have been privileged to an amazing array of experiences, recounted in the brief minutes allowed in an Emergency Dept. encounter. These experiences have revealed the incredible individuals I have had the honor of serving in a medical capacity, many on their last admission to the hospital.

There was a frail, elderly woman who reassured my young enlisted medic, trying to start an IV line in her arm. She remained calm and poised, despite her illness and the multiple needle-sticks into her fragile veins. She was what we call a ‘hard stick.’ As the medic made another attempt, I noticed a number tattooed across her forearm. I touched it with one finger and looked into her eyes. She simply said, ‘ Auschwitz ..’ Many of later generations would have loudly and openly berated the young medic in his many attempts. How different was the response from this person who’d seen unspeakable suffering.


Also, there was this long retired Colonel, who as a young officer had parachuted from his burning plane over a Pacific Island held by the Japanese. Now an octogenarian, he had a minor cut on his head from a fall at his home where he lived alone. His CT scan and suturing had been delayed until after midnight by the usual parade of high priority ambulance patients.. Still spry for his age, he asked to use the phone to call a taxi, to take him home, then he realized his ambulance had brought him without his wallet. He asked if he could use the phone to make a long distance call to his daughter who lived 7 miles away. With great pride we told him that he could not, as he’d done enough for his country and the least we could do was get him a taxi home, even if we had to pay for it ourselves. My only regret was that my shift wouldn’t end for several hours, and I couldn’t drive him myself.


I was there the night M/Sgt Roy Benavidez came through the Emergency Dept. for the last time. He was very sick. I was not the doctor taking care of him, but I walked to his bedside and took his hand. I said nothing. He was so sick, he didn’t know I was there. I’d read his Congressional Medal of Honor citation and wanted to shake his hand. He died a few days later.


The gentleman who served with Merrill’s Marauders,



the survivor of the Bataan Death March,






the survivor of Omaha Beach,





the 101 year old World War I veteran.



The former POW held in frozen North Korea





The former Special Forces medic – now with non-operable liver cancer





the former Viet Nam Corps Commander..





I may still groan when yet another ambulance comes in, but now I am much more aware of what an honor it is to serve these particular men and women.






I have seen a Congress who would turn their back on these individuals who’ve sacrificed so much to protect our liberty. I see later generations that seem to be totally engrossed in abusing these same liberties, won with such sacrifice.



It has become my personal endeavor to make the nurses and young enlisted medics aware of these amazing individuals when I encounter them in our Emergency Dept. Their response to these particular citizens has made me think that perhaps all is not lost in the next generation.




My experiences have solidified my belief that we are losing an incredible generation, and this nation knows not what it is losing. Our uncaring government and ungrateful civilian populace should all take note. We should all remember that we must ‘Earn this.’















Written By CAPT. Steven R. Ellison, M.D. US Army

Loyal Subscribers!  We need some help.  The purpose of our “Heart” section is to publish stories of the experiences, contributions and sacrifices of our military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard) and public service personnel (police officers, fire fighters, EMS, merchant marines and others in the public sector) as well as stories of their families.  Please search your memory and computer for a few and send them to Bill (CPT Otis) O’Quin at for possible publication.  Thanks!


Important links for updated military/defense information:
The Daily News Briefing: Today’s News for the U.S. Military, their families and friends.
The Military Trivia Challenge: Register and test your knowledge about military history.
U.S. Department of Defense: Military Defense News.

Comments read comments(7)
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Dan Levenhagen

posted February 23, 2013 at 5:36 pm

I just wanted to thank Doc. Ellison for his artical, as he is a very caring person. I just wish that there were more people that think like this, and that they could do something about it, before our free way of life is totally gone. I don’t really expect it to take much longer with the goverment being run like it is today. God bless our military people. Thanks.

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posted February 4, 2013 at 7:40 pm

A great story! I hope that everyone had a great and safe weekend,and that goes for the week ahead. I also hope that they enjoyed the recent holidays that we had last week.

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daniel j bridges sr

posted January 21, 2013 at 11:57 am

machines need mechanics soldiers (all military personnel) need medics (all medical personnel) America needs a strong Armed Force to save the world from itself (Greed/political corruption/geonicide/tyrrants/dictators/LAWYERS)

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Leigh Fraser

posted February 9, 2012 at 2:39 pm

This was great, sometimes we forget what our and Allied military people have done. Recently I was talking about B-17 pilots, I looked up at my audience and to my absolute astonishment
realized that there were over 100 Eighth Air Force Veterans listening. One of them asked me if I felt they had done something worthwhile. I made the only appropriate reply,” My late husband was among you. YES, you saved our world and contributed to the end of a tyrannical regime. You are all heroes”. Then I found myself in tears.

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patsy hayes

posted February 7, 2012 at 5:34 am

This touched my soul. Thank you so much for sharing. God Bless them all. And a heartfelt thank you from my family for all you have given us.

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A combat medics wife

posted February 7, 2012 at 3:07 am

This is wonderful. I know my late husband would always make sure that the younger troops that worked with him in the ER knew when there was aperson of intrest or someone they could really learn from and make them try to find out what made them so special and important. Then again all the patients that can into the ER were important

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Ed Sorrels

posted February 6, 2012 at 8:55 pm

I thought I had a copy of the video of this and found that I didn’t. As a child of WWII and a Korean War veteran I found this to be very moving, They were truely the “Greatest Generation” I was privledged to know and spend time with a survivor of the Batan Death March and hear the stories of what they endured, I fear for our country today as there all to few of men and women like these magnificent people.

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