Thursday, March 28, 2013

Inside Combat Rescue

Let’s get serious today.
I don’t really like serious things…they make me uncomfortable.
But I’m gonna do it anyway.

Has anyone seen this show?
The hubs and I watched it last night; it was the last episode in a mini-series of six.
The show follows an elite team of pararescuers and their efforts to save lives of inured American soldiers during combat.
I’ve watched a lot of specials, and TV shows, and documentaries about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but this one hit me differently. …and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

I’ve been thinking about it because all those soldiers and pararescuers, they looked like my husband.
Buzzed haircut, no facial hair, the black sport watch on the left wrist, a tan shirt with digital ACU pants, and a camouflage hat with a dark green Velcro patch of the American flag on the front, with a pair of Oakley sunglasses resting on the brim.
My husband looks like that.
They talked over the radio with specific instruction, no questions, no inflection in their voice except for an assurance that’s evident they were always in control.
Never a hint of panic.
My husband sounds like that.

See, Nate spent over a year in Iraq with the U.S. Army. I’ve known my husband since the 4th grade, and he’s never been far. We lived a few blocks down from each other, went to church together, and went to school together. I’ve always had an idea of what his life looked like, and sounded like, and what his daily routines were…except for those 15 months he was in Iraq.
I know everything about my husband, except for what his life was like for 15 months while he was overseas.
I never asked what it was like while he was in country, cause I didn’t want to know, and he never said much cause he didn’t want me to worry.

But this show, there was something about this show that was very real; there were no special effects, no dramatic music, nor was it edited in a way that cut from scene to scene – instead, it followed the pararescuers from the time they got a call, flew the helicopter to the scene, loaded the injured and worked on them while in transit, and delivered them to the hospital all within the “Golden Hour”. We even watched as a triple amputee who’d just been blown up by an IED moments before, passed away on the operating table, and the doctor checked the clock for his time of death.
We watched an injured medic be loaded onto the helicopter and his buddies kissed him on the forehead in case they never saw him again.
It was as if I was there, watching in real time.

…and I kept picturing Nate there.
I kept wondering if that’s what his life looked like while he was there.

I wondered how many times he’d waited in the dirt, next to a blown up Humvee for help to arrive for an injured friend, just like what we watched on the TV.
I wondered how many times he flew in a helicopter. Or when he did, if he ever sat right near the edge with his leg dangling out, like the pararescuers did.
I wondered how much sleep he got, or what time he woke up and went to bed, or if he ever had bags under his eyes like some of those soldiers did.
I wondered if it would’ve been easier if we had Skype when Nate was deployed.

I wonder about all these things, and then I look over and he’s sitting next to me on the
couch…and it’s weird.
It’s weird cause he’s the same Nate.
But I know he was a different Nate when he was gone from me.
But I don’t know how he was different. I never saw it.

It probably doesn’t make sense, written out like this. But in my head, it does.

Nate hates when I talk about his service, and if he reads this post he’ll probably give me the stink-eye.
But whatevs. I’m proud of him and I think he deserves credit.
And I think all service members deserve credit.
A lot of credit.

And I think if you ever have the chance, you should try and watch this show, Inside Combat Rescue. You may have a new perspective, it might be more real for you too.

That was heavy.
Enough seriousness for today.


“Honor the fallen, thank the living.”


  1. OMG you got me all teary eyed! i am glad he is home safe and sound!

  2. I totally cried. my heart was pounding for the moments described when calling time of death, and legs dangling out of the heli. this is so beautifully written. thank you Nathan for all of your unseen efforts to keep us safe. And thank you Rissa for being such a supportive military wife. omg i love you both!

    1. Love you too Tyah...and Abel!!! And thank you!!! =)

  3. this is such an amazing post and it continues to make me realize how AMAZING our troops are for all that they do. Nate is SO courageous for all that he's done and seen. I can't even imagine. You too are incredibly amazing and courageous for being the girlfriend and wife you were and are. Thank God for our troops for all that they do and for women like you supporting them at home. :)

    1. Aww thanks Ashley!! Our troops are truly amazing!!

  4. First off I want to say thank you to you and your husband. Second, I'm now crying... Haha! My husband has been to Iraq and Afganistan. I don't know much about his deployments either. But occasionally I will hear things (mostly when he's talking to my dad or his friends) that make me cringe... I also remember worrying about silly things when he was there like: is he getting enough sleep, does he have any friends, has he laughed today. I don't think it is something most people would understand unless they are in that situation...

  5. Your hubby definitely deserves all the credit!!

    My husband isn't in the service, but I definitely want to watch this.

  6. Oh my, this post and the last picture made me get teary. I am so thankful for what your husband and so many others have done for our country.

    God bless America



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