Magazine article Nieman Reports

Coping with Life after a Disabling Rocket Attack

Magazine article Nieman Reports

Coping with Life after a Disabling Rocket Attack

Article excerpt

Raymond Hubbard was injured in Baghdad on July 4, 2006, when a Russian made 122mm rocket crashed 20 feet away from the guard post where he was stationed. Dozens of pieces of shrapnel tore into his body. One ripped into him just below his left knee, immediately amputating his leg. Another cartwheeled through his neck, severing his carotid artery. As he hit the ground he was still conscious and stared in numb disbelief as the horrified faces of his comrades gathered above him, speaking consoling words, and forcing him down when he tried to see the damage done to his lower body. A medic arrived on the scene moments after the blast. Raymond was already hemorrhaging massive quantities of blood from his severed artery. The medic, thinking quickly, plunged his hands into Ray's neck and clamped the artery hard, stemming the blood flow. Still, the damage had been done. Raymond had already lost 14 pints of blood and suffered a massive stroke. He survived surgery and was sent to Germany. For over a month he lay in a coma.

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When he woke up and slowly began to realize what had happened to him, he was deeply troubled. Nearly 40 years before, his father had been in a guard tower in Vietnam when it too was hit by a rocket. He was severely wounded, and Raymond's injuries bore an eerie similarity to his father's. Raymond and his father had never been close. His father had never recovered emotionally or physically from his wounds, and Raymond's early, pained memories are of a house in squalor and his father drinking heavily. When Raymond was 15, his father died from complications related to his alcoholism. Shortly afterwards, Raymond dropped out of high school, and the years that followed were a blur of drugs, alcohol and failed relationships. He had two sons by the time he was 18 but, when he met Sarah, everything changed. He cleaned up, got a job, bought a house, and joined the National Guard. …

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