The House on Hammond Drive: Chapters Four and Five

 

When they returned in July, Emma wasn’t sure yet, but she was already pregnant with their first son. Sadly, something else began during Emma and Phillip’s honeymoon: the Korean Conflict. Phillip’s letter of induction was waiting for him in the huge stack of mail that had been held for them.

As a wedding gift, Phillip’s parents had given them a beautiful lot in River Oaks. Meeting with architects, interior designers, and landscapers, occupied much the time between their honeymoon and Phillip’s leaving.  They were both happy, of course, but their happiness was undoubtedly subdued because Phillip wouldn’t be here for the arrival of their newborn, the move into their new house, or even their first Christmas as a married couple. Their happy married life would last for only three months. He was to report to Camp Lee, Virginia on October fifteenth, after which he would commence fourteen weeks of basic training and officer training. Phillip was included among the first medical draftees of the Korean Conflict, and would be stationed in Korea as early as January of 1951.

 

Chapter Five

Nothing in his life of privilege had prepared Phillip for what he saw in Korea. He was very near the front line, the surgeon in a “forward collecting station” where jeeps and sometimes other soldiers bore litters carrying injured soldiers. After being assessed by medics and nurses, those with the most serious injuries were seen by Dr. Andrews. If he felt the wounds were survivable, he would, with the assistance of his staff nurses, complete whatever triage could be performed on the scene, and then helicopters would transport them to the battalion aid station. In many instances, Phillip was the one person standing between a soldier and his death. Soldiers came to him sometimes in pieces,  missing limbs, and sometimes even missing faces. He sifted through the wounded like someone might sift through fruit on a conveyor belt, tossing aside those considered to be unsalvageable. He dealt with this monstrous responsibility by gradually developing a cold detachment.

The forward collecting stations were in constant danger of being attacked. Phillip always worked with the sound of gunfire in the background, and often with the sound of grenades exploding nearby. What he saw while stationed there, he never talked about after his return to the states, but the stories of soldiers who survived make it clear that there we more than physical scars carried with the men and women who served during wartime. While some men returned from war missing a limb, Phillip returned missing his heart.

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