September 17th, 2009
06:40 PM ET

Soldier: “Do they realize we're still over here?"

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/17/cnn.team.with.rescue.medic.jpg]

Danielle Dellorto
CNN Medical Producer

I remember shuffling through moondust up to my knees in Helmand Province when a U.S. Army combat medic turned to me and said, “If I ask you something, do you promise you’ll be honest?” I nodded yes. “Do people back home still think about us? Do they realize we’re still over here?”

I’ll never forget that moment.

Truth is, while most of America might know that 62,000 U.S. military personnel are in theater, they apparently aren’t happy about it. A recent CNN/Opinion Research poll found that support of the war in Afghanistan has hit a new low. Only 39 percent favor U.S. military action in Afghanistan.

But does supporting the overall mission go hand-in-hand with supporting the troops?

Dr. Sanjay Gupta and I recently embedded with U.S. Army combat medics in Afghanistan. I slept where they slept, ate what they ate, and followed them day in and day out. Their job is to rescue and triage injured soldiers at a moment’s notice. They are always ready. They even sleep with their shoes on.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that these soldiers were no different from the factory worker in middle America. Both work tirelessly in their jobs, both want to succeed, both want to provide for their families. And despite the echoes of mortar fire over their shoulders, extreme heat and no communication with loved ones – I never heard the soldiers complain. I watched the medics save countless lives: sons and daughters, husband and wives from all around the world. Why? It’s their job.

So as I looked in the eyes of that U.S. soldier – the one who feared America might have forgotten about him – I realized my job is to not only report on the medical military operations but also to highlight the courageous stories of those risking their own lives to save others in Afghanistan.

I am back home now…and yes, I still think about them.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Afghanistan • Dr. Sanjay Gupta
soundoff (217 Responses)
  1. Joan

    Our troops rock! The best women and men in the world are the US Soldiers who risk their lives each day to protect us. Keep up the great work, be safe and come home soon!

    September 19, 2009 at 8:49 am |
  2. Ron San Bruno, Ca

    Danielle Dellorto, sorry for being late in my response. The best way I can express my concern, was on 360 blog on 9/10/2009, " Soldier send messages home" . I am the last entry . Yes we know where you are and we care very much . Thank you again for your article. Be safe.

    September 19, 2009 at 12:21 am |
  3. Beverly

    In the last picture is Colin, he is on the left.

    September 18, 2009 at 10:36 pm |
  4. Alamar Fernandez

    I can not imagine how they feel, nor the work they do, under such pressure. I must admit that, with my own problems at hand, I had forgotten, until now. I will do my utmost to remember and remind, of our fellow Human Beings, Brothers& Sisters, still over there. And I Pray for their Fast&Safe return...AMEN.

    September 18, 2009 at 5:38 pm |
  5. michael gurley

    Your story is fantastic and straight to the point. No matter what our personal opinions about whether or not we should still be there–we should never -ever forget the people who risk thier lives daily becasue that's what they have to do–IT'S THIER JOB!!

    September 18, 2009 at 12:24 pm |
  6. Gin

    I correspond twice weekly for over a year now with deployed soldiers and could never forget about you or them. I have great admiration for your courage and belief in a goal that is greater than all of us. Thank you so much. 🙂 take care and please stay safe.

    September 18, 2009 at 10:52 am |
  7. Cheryl

    We do love and thank the service members from the bottom of our hearts. I pray for them daily....they are my heroes!

    September 18, 2009 at 9:01 am |
  8. ronvan

    Support them & pray for them!!! As a 23yr Army Viet Nam vet. I do not support these "conflicts". It is another Viet Nam, just a different country! Our military, all branches, are magnificent, and have some of the most devastating weaponry available. However, once again our country & its elected officials cannot make a decision on what to do and in the meantime we are loosing our finest. Either send ALL of our troops there, and give them the "green light" to end this mess, which would not take them very long, and then get the heck out. OR bring them ALL home. There is no in between!

    September 18, 2009 at 8:14 am |
  9. Nina

    Every solider serving in both Afghanistan and Iraq, are in my thoughts daily, I am not a supporter of this war, I think it is unjust, but I will never ever fault the men and women who are doing their jobs, trying to uphold the values they, and the rest of us believe in..

    I support my troops; I wear the Red Friday shirt, I have the ribbons, I thank a soldier every chance I get, they are never forgotten, never ignored, never unappreciated.

    Come home safe.

    September 18, 2009 at 8:03 am |
  10. Donna Wood Lil' Tennessee

    That's exactly what I was asking Mr. Cooper about. Are we going to be kept up to on how our guys and girls are doing over in Afghanistan? I for one would love updates on a continuing basis please.

    Donna Wood
    Lexington, Tennessee

    September 18, 2009 at 7:06 am |

    Of course we did not forget them. My daughter's boyfriend is in Iraq. All I can do is send money to the USO.

    September 18, 2009 at 6:48 am |
  12. Joey's Mom

    How can we remember the attack on 9 11 and not support the war and our troops? My GI Joe is a proud soldier and we are his proud family. We thank all our soldiers, marines, sailors, airmen and coasties for all they do for our country.
    If you are the mom of a child serving in the military, check out the Blue Star Mothers of America, a national parent organization, for support from other moms of military heroes. If there isn't a chapter near you start one!

    September 18, 2009 at 5:39 am |
  13. Mario Walsh

    I am Canadian but our soldiers are over there as well and today another one of our boys gave his life for God and country. Do I think of them? Always!!! I was part of the Canadian Armed Forces once but was not involved in a theatre of operations, nor did I fight in foreign lands. Every Friday I proudly red RED to visibly show my support for these brave men and women who fight for our freedom, regardless of which flag is flying above them. God keep our troops safe and out of harm's way. We love and respect all of them and come HOME soon!

    September 18, 2009 at 3:20 am |
  14. Shailen

    I am an Indian.

    I just want to add that it's not only Americans, but people all over the world realise and remember that the US Troops are doing a great job in Afghanistan.

    We wish them success and hope that they are soon able to stabilize Afghanistan and return home.

    September 18, 2009 at 3:18 am |
  15. Connie Fekete

    You are NOT forgotten! I tell my children every day about the brave men and women who spend so much time away from their loved ones so we can all have a better world to live in. I hope they grow to truly appreciate what you do as much as I do. God Bless you all.

    September 18, 2009 at 2:56 am |
  16. Thankasoldier

    Danielle, as you know i have a group with 2,6 million members who do our part every day to make sure our service men and women from all countires of the UN Coalition are NEVER forgotten about. Whether its sending letters, care packages, videos, thank you message boards what these men and women do for us will never go unnoticed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to every man and women to ever wear the uniform of our great counties.
    Dave Murphy – thankasoldier.net

    September 18, 2009 at 2:07 am |
  17. Tammi-NC

    Its time to move pass if we agree with the war or not. The fact remains that there is a Time for Peace and a Time for War. It just so happens that we are currently at war and there are real men and women there:. who risks their lives daily. War conditions are not comfortable and the conditions are usually borderline deployable. But until we and those in authority recognize that the root of this war dates back 4000 yrs. Ago and will not be won, due to a massive amount of manpower. This is a spiritual matter,hence a spiritual war and requires a spiritual battle plan. I say start by sending the military chaplains over to do spiritual warfare,to destroy the stronghold over Afghan and Iraq and to educate all involved regarding this matter. Until then we must continue as a nation to pray for the safety of our troops currently deployed and for those who will be deployed in the future....TAMMI-NC

    September 18, 2009 at 1:41 am |
1 2 3 4 5

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.