Strength & Honor

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Donna Rowe

Selected Excerpts

Just One Life
Donna Rowe (US Army nurse, triage Cpt.)

". . . Our ambulance met the Dustoff at the helipad across a busy avenue from the hospital. Specialist Geer was the driver who brought the baby to us and relayed to us the story of the destroyed village and its sole survivor . . . this tiny little baby. Her dead mother's arms were broken to release the baby on the helipad.

Specialist Five Richard Hock, one of my best combat trained medics, took the baby from the ambulance drivers. He realized immediately that this little soul was in respiratory distress, due to her abdomen engorging with blood from her fragment injuries thus hampering her diaphragmatic breathing. We got a breathing tube into her with the smallest tube we had in the Triage area, put a manual breathing bag on it, and Richard took over breathing for this little one until we turned her over to the Operating Room staff several harrowing minutes later.

The Triage doctor ordered a "full body" screen on her so we rushed the baby to the X-ray room so we could locate pieces of shrapnel to be removed in surgery. On the way from X-ray to the operating room, I saw Father Luke Sullivan, our Catholic Chaplain, and pulled him into the crowd that was half-running down the hospital corridor. Fearing the baby might die any moment, I told him "Father, come with us, you have to baptize this baby!"

He told me he didn't have any holy water with him. I pointed to an outside wash-off sink in the corridor adjoining the Emergency Room and the Operating suites, and said, "Father, any water you touch right now will be holy, God is watching, let's get this baby baptized!"

So Father Sullivan used water from the sink to sprinkle on her tiny little head and said "I baptize thee . . . " he stopped and looked at me for a name. A name, a name, a name I thought, then remembering the Irish song my father sang to me while dancing me across the floor as a child, I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen, so I blurted out quickly in the rush, "Name her Kathleen Fields! Kathleen from the Irish ballad and Fields because we're in the 3rd Field Hospital." Father Sullivan's hand touched her little forehead while he stated the baptismal rights then he looked around this fast moving litter/gurney and said ". . . and your Godparents are Specialist Medic Darrell Warren (a Mormon), Specialist Richard Hock (a Catholic), and Captain Donna Rowe (a Methodist).

We became Godparents on that day, joining with a Catholic Priest to do a tiny bit of God's work all while rushing the baby to life-saving surgery. Father Sullivan in his sermon that night referred to this act as an "ecumenical baptismal" as he told his flock "There are no denominations in war, but there is always faith in God. . . ."

Specialists Darrel Warren, Richard Hock,
baby Kathleen and Cpt Donna Rowe
Photo by : Helen Musgrove, embedded reporter,
from the Jacksonville FL Journal, all rights reserved

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