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.