Sunday, October 16, 2005

A New Course of Action

The entrance to the FOB Landing Zone, or LZ, reads
"Y'all Come Back Now, Ya Hear?

October 16, 2005

My visit to the 155th Brigade Combat Team was a great opportunity to learn about my Army brethren. The Mississippians were a great bunch of guys and lined up some fantastic soldiers for me to speak to, including the most "senior" active duty soldier in Operation Iraqi Freedom. My very last interview was with Colonel William N. Bernhard, M.D., Brigade Surgeon for the 155th.

Colonel Bernhard is 74 years old, and originally enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1950. He was medically discharged from the Corps in 1951, which he steadfastly claims was life's greatest disappointment. Unhappy as a civilian, he pursued a career with the Naval Medical Corps and by 1963, was honorably discharged as a Lieutenant Commander (0-4). Still in love with the military lifestyle, then LCDR Bernhard approached the Army Reserves and received his US Army commission in 1979, working under the First US Army Augmentation Detachment.

He has served in dozens of hot spots around the world to include service with the an MP Brigade at Camp 301, Hofra-el-Betin, where he provided medical care for 15,000 Iraqi prisoners of war (EPW's) in 2001. Subsequent to a tour in Afghanistan in 2003, he was again called back to active duty from the retired roles to serve as the Brigade Surgeon for the 155th BCT. An amazing man with impeccable credentials - I was honored to meet and spend time with this living legend.

After returning to Camp Falluja, I reported to the office of the Commanding General for my "better late than never" in-call. Major General Stephen Johnson commands the entire II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) ... aka: II MEF (Fwd), which includes the US Army forces with whom I just spent the last week. The CG provided some great insight into the current operational situation and suggested a change or two in my intended course of action. As anyone with military experience would agree, I quickly "readjusted my battle plan accordingly." Looks like I'll be spending some time in the field with our Marines from the 2nd Marine Division, with whom I served as a young Lieutenant. I now have a new course of action. More to come.


Jihadgene said...

Way to go "Full Bird" Colonel Bernhard!!! You are the RIGHT STUFF!!! God bless you and thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

An American and a real life hero. Thanks, and God bless all our service people who protect us and our way of life. The Curry family

Anonymous said...

Marines have amazed me and filled me with pride during my long life time.Thank God we still have a Marine corps and its life now seems assured for all time.Thank God,I have held that homor of being a Marine sense 1947.

Anonymous said...

I had the honor of working with COL Bernhard in Hit. He's the greatest shotgun toting(you really had to be there) Colonel I have ever met and a great guy with a amazing military background. Best of luck to him in the future. I pray for his safety and the honor of working with him again.
CPT Matthew St. Pierre

SSG Thomas R Firak said...

I met Col Bernhard at FOB Kalsu as a member of the 155 BCT. I wound up with the 155 after getting called up from the IRR in late 2004. We all were really amazed that he was there with us. It was like having your Grandfather with you.