SC veteran suffered severe hand wound in Iraq combat. He fought back.
Post and Courier
March 3, 2019
Bowen underwent more surgeries — it would eventually total more than 15. Medical staff would tell him after that while he was under general anesthesia they sometimes struggled to hold him down as he thrashed and yelled, “incoming.”
He stayed on the roof firing his machine gun for one mortar round too long. That’s how Dustin Bowen thinks of it.
The 22-year-old Marine lance corporal was under heavy attack in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2006, at a time when the city was ground zero for some of the fiercest combat in the second Iraq war. He remembers the blast. A fellow Marine told him he was blown off the roof and sat on the ground like he didn’t know how to get up.
He was pulled to cover and kept fighting until the unit could be reinforced, kept fighting despite some pain in his leg and his shoulder and the screaming agony in his hand.
For the next 10 years the agony in the hand wouldn’t ever go away.
They did field surgery on the hand, braced and wrapped it, knew it wasn’t fixed. Command “persuaded” him, he said wryly, not to evacuate. He took a thumb tack, snipped off the pin with a wire clipper. He embedded the pin in his numb shooting finger and lightly wrapped it before each sortie. It was the only way he could tell whether he was pulling the trigger.
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