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  Spring 2011 issue (pdf)

College colleagues replace Soldiers’ computers

Lt. Col. David Gourlay, MD ’97, Fel ’06, displays the 911th Forward Surgical Team guidon, which was still standing after a rocket attack destroyed the team’s sleeping quarters in September 2010.
Lt. Col. David Gourlay, MD ’97, Fel ’06, displays the 911th Forward Surgical Team guidon, which was still standing after a rocket attack destroyed the team’s sleeping quarters in September 2010.

The good news was, all members of the 911th Forward Surgical Team stationed in Iraq made it safely to a protective bunker after the first rocket hit their base. The bad news was, their sleeping tent, containing all of their personal belongings, took a direct hit.

David Gourlay, MD ’97, Fel ’06, a lieutenant colonel with the Army Reserves team, was stationed at the base when the rocket attack occurred in early September. Among the losses sustained when their quarters burned to the ground, the most significant may have been the Soldiers’ computers, which provide a vital means of communicating with their loved ones back home.

Dr. Gourlay is Assistant Professor of Surgery (Pediatric) at The Medical College of Wisconsin. His colleagues in the Department of Surgery, along with the departments of Pediatrics and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Tushaus Computer Services, responded to the attack by shipping nine computers to Iraq for the Soldiers who lost theirs – just in time for Christmas.

“When I returned, I was proud to see that my department had spearheaded this effort,” said Dr. Gourlay, who arrived back in Milwaukee in mid-October. “It is particularly difficult for the junior enlisted personnel to replace more expensive items like a computer, and it means so much to them to know people back home continue to keep them in mind.”

Lewis B. Somberg, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery (Trauma and Critical Care), is also assigned to the 911th Forward Surgical Team, but was not deployed because he is in Command School. He initiated the effort to acquire and prepare the laptops for their special delivery to Iraq.

“I can tell you from personal experience that having a computer over there is an absolute necessity,” Dr. Somberg said. “It is the only lifeline you have to your family and the world.”

The 911th is based in Madison, Wis., and provides front-line trauma care and other medical services to Soldiers.

 

Soldiers’ living quarters prior to the attack.
Soldiers’ living quarters prior to the attack.
Impact site of the rocket attack on the 911th.
Impact site of the rocket attack on the 911th.

 

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