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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Small World

I finally got around to reading Peggy Noonan's weekly Wall Street Journal column today. From last week. She is such a calm, reasoned voice. Last week's column was about Gen. Petraeus.

In "Get It Done" she explains that next month the General will be all over the media, speaking to his report to Congress and the President. Already we can probably decipher what the report will say, as he has been quoted as saying more time is needed for the job to be done.

What I found interesting about the column was a personal story she told of the General. A favorite genre of literature for me is a good biography. I enjoy reading the story of someones life. Why the person chose the path he or she chose, or a reference to personal character.

Turns out the General "graduated from West Point in 1974, 10th in his class, and his career has been the very model of the new Army: a master's in public administration, Ph.D. in the lessons of Vietnam, a fellowship in foreign affairs at Georgetown. Wrote the book, literally, on counterterrorism. Ten months in Bosnia. Time in Kuwait. Fought in Iraq, in Karbala, Hilla and Najaf, and became known and admired for rebuilding and administrating Mosul. Academically credentialed, bureaucratically knowing, historically well read. "

September 21, 1991, General Petraeus was commanding the Third Battalion of the 101st Airborne in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. During a live-fire training exercise, a soldier tripped. His M-16 fired and the bullet hit the General in his chest.

General Petraeus was medi-vaced to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. There, in Nashville, the surgeon on call was at the elevator as the gurney carried the soldier, with a tube in his chest. He asked the General if he wanted to be stabilized before surgery. Unlike the usual answer, according to the surgeon, the General said, "Don't waste any time. Get it done. Let's get on with it."

Oh, the surgeon? Dr. Bill Frist. Later Senator Frist, Senate Majority Leader. The operation was successful and 24 hours later General Petraeus asked Dr. Frist to be transferred back to Fort Campbell's base hospital so his soldiers wouldn't worry about him. "His soldiers were first and foremost in his mind. That's why they like him so much, " Frist said.

Noonan continues: "What does it all mean? Life is interesting, mysterious, and has an unseen circularity. You never know in any given day what's going to happen or who's going to have a big impact on you and on others. A future military commander got shot, and a future leader of the Senate stopped the bleeding."

I'll be waiting on the biography of the General's life.

Small world.

6 comments:

wordnerd said...

What an intriguing man! Thanks for your thoughts!

vicki said...

You know, Karen- you and I don't share much, politically speaking. That being said, reading your posts is really good for me- they open my eyes to see other points of view and open my mind to consider them. I appreciate that. It also reminds me that people don't need to see eye to eye to be friends, to admire and respect one another. Thank you.

Donald Douglas said...

Interesting post, as usual over here!

Incognito said...

It is interesting how paths cross and for what purpose, if any.

Interesting stuff about Pet.

Paul is a Hermit said...

Our troops have to have the best person selected to lead them. That has not always been the case through history and never will be.

There is no reason yet to doubt the General is not that person, I hope you've found another good omen in his life.
Westmoreland carried great credentials too, as indeed did Creighton Abrams and in the end..., but then Bush is not LBJ.
I hope Petraeus pulls this off, his time is limited and the Democrats are in no mood to help Bush look good.

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

I've heard about the incident, but not all the details. Thanks for this post.