Saturday, 25 June 2011

So it has been a 24 hours full of surprises! Last night I went to do a MedEvac and it ended up being a back to back outbound/inbound mission. However, there were only 6 ambulatory patients and one litter on the outbound and only one Ckat (life-support) patient on the inbound so my help wasn't really needed. What came as a real surprise though, was when the unit gathered around me in the CASF and did an impromptu awards ceremony. They said a few words about the work that I had done with them and then presented me with a Certificate of Appreciation! Honestly, it was one of the most rewarding moments of the deployment.

Then today, an hour after billeting woke me up yelling that they needed to secure one of the rooms in our Bhut (aka make a lot of noise and let in a lot of day light for no reason), Ingrid came by and woke me up saying that we were invited to a ceremony for the staff of the Egyptian Hospital. I didn't catch everything Ingrid said in my sleep haze, but I got up and showered quickly and we drove off to the "Clamshell" which is a large recreation facility. Inside we learned that the staff of the Egyptian Hospital was redeploying shortly and wanted to present us, along with their other partners, with certificates of appreciation. So Ingrid and I braved the 110 plus degree heat as we watched a commemorative slide show about the unit's work and then a rather obvious video for Egyptian tourism (post-revolution mind-you. They did well to advertise that Egypt is now entirely democratic ;-)

One of the things I couldn't help but notice was how familial the Egyptians were with both each other and the other allied Middle Eastern soldiers. The officers are frequently embracing and holding each others hands or kissing on the cheeks and I commented that you'd never see such familiarity at a US ceremony. They also appear to be just mad for picture and video taking. Both Ingrid and I were taken aback at the number of pictures and poses and filming that was going on. You would have thought we were at a 25 year anniversary reunion. The majority of the soldiers had cameras and were nothing short of recording the whole event.

After the slide show portion finished the Commander of the Egyptian Hospital began to recognize partners who had made a difference in their work. When my name was called I honestly could not stop cracking up. I know only a very few of the Egyptian soldiers who work as guards on the compound, but the clapping and screaming and cheering you heard when my name was called you would have thought they were my biggest fans. I am going to wager that being the only blond at the ceremony may have had something to do with this reaction, but I couldn't help but shake my head and laugh as I went up to receive my certificate.

It is a recognition I will always cherish. I am very proud to have been a part of their work with the Afghans at the Egyptian Hospital

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